Testicular pain is a topic that men find difficult to discuss and may oftentimes be embarrassed by it. However, it is more common than most would realize and knowing the facts behind what causes it and what it has the potential could do could be the difference between maintaining good health and a possible trip to the emergency room.
Definition & Facts
Testicle pain is a sensation which occurs in and/or around either one or both testicles. In some cases, the pain starts in the groin or abdominal area. Prior to the child’s birth, the testicles are located inside the abdomen.
Over time, they gradually descend through the abdomen, falling into the child’s scrotum. Despite the change in location, they stay attached to the abdomen by way of the spermatic cord. This cord holds nerves, blood and lymphatic vessels, and the vas deferens and suspends the testicles into the scrotum.
It also has the potential to affect a man’s ability to produce offspring. The testicles are the two male reproductive glands that produce sperm. They are so sensitive to the point where even the most minor injury has the ability to cause pain or discomfort, in which case, many types of scrotal pain demand immediate medical attention. Testicular torsion is a condition in which the testicles manage to twist inside the scrotum, either unexpectedly or because of a forceful blow to them.
The rotation twists the blood vessels inside the spermatic cord, leading to an issue with blood flow to the testicles. This causes a subsequent lack of oxygen to the testicles, which can cause either one or both testes to become essentially ineffective. Testicular torsion has the potential to occur in males of any age, but is most common in the first few months of a child’s life, as well as boys in fall within the age range of 12-18. Other causes include:
Epididymitis refers to inflammation of the ttepididymiszz. The epididymis is a structure connected to the upper, outer, and back side of the testicle, giving it a direct connection to the wall of the teste. Epididymitis is usually caused by an infection, typically a sexually transmitted disease. It is the most common cause of testicular pain in men older than the age of 18, but still has the possibility of occurring in prepubescent boys and elderly males with enlarged prostate glands.
There are lesser forms of testicle discomfort that, while benign, should still be treated appropriately in order to prevent further pain. These conditions usually result from a buildup of fluid in the scrotum and can cause swelling in the scrotal area and result in much more severe pain. One condition, informally known as ‘blue balls,’ occurs when an erection does not end in ejaculation, resulting in pain in the testicles. This minor ache is harmless, usually subsiding within a few hours.
When to see a doctor
Individuals affected with any form of testicular pain, no matter how minute they may believe the pain is, should treat is as an emergency that needs to be treated as soon as possible and seek medical help immediately. Some common signs that it is time to notify a health specialist include a warm, tender sensation in the scrotum, a lump in the scrotum, or the patient develops a fever.
A health-care professional will have the patient undergo a physical exam to better identify the problem, focusing on the testicles, scrotum, and penis. If there is discharge coming from the penis, a urethral swab, where the doctor uses a sterile cotton swab to clean out the opening of the urethra near the tip of the penis, may be necessary. The health-care provider may also call for a urinalysis, an examination of the patient’s urine (appearance, concentration, and content). Based on the initial findings, as well as the patient’s history, additional tests may be needed. These tests include:
Treatment & Therapy
After a thorough evaluation, if the injury to the testicular are does not require any surgery, the patient may be able to treat his condition at home with the use of ice packs, scrotal support, pain medications, warm baths, and a lot of rest, the patient should experience the pain subside over time.
Unless advised by the doctor not to, take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil®), or acetaminophen (Tylenol®). For cases of testicle issues that occur in boys, never give any over-the-counter medication to a child without consulting a medical professional first. In the event that testicular torsion does occur, surgery is a necessity. The surgery consists of untwisting the testicle and securing it to the scrotal wall in order to prevent any future twisting.
Prevention & Prophylaxis
Always wear the proper protective gear (athletic supporters such as cups) when partaking in any type of rigorous sporting activities. For sexually active men, practice safe sex (consistent use of latex condoms) in order to help reduce the chance of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, the leading cause of epididymitis in men.
Young boys should receive vaccine shots to prevent mumps. Be sure to limit the amount of stress put on the perineum and pudendal nerve. Perform regular testicular self-exams in order to detect tumors early on.