Testicle pain refers to soreness, aching and irritation in one or both of the testicles. Sometimes the discomfort continues into the stomach. The testicles are quite sensitive, and even slight irritation can cause some tenderness. However, pain that is intense and abrupt should be medically investigated immediately. Pain in the testicles has many causes, but testicular cancer usually isn't one of them.
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Infection in the testicles can cause pain. The most common types of infection in the testicles are epididymitis and orchitis. In epididymitis, the testicle ducts, which prevent semen to leave the testicles, become infected with bacteria. Epididymitis is usually sexually transmitted. Orchitis is caused by either bacteria or a virus. It can accompany epididymitis or prostatitis.
Testicular torsion happens when a testicle becomes twisted, cutting off its blood supply. Torsion can cause swelling and intense pain. It happens mostly to young men, but it can occur at any time in life. Testicular torsion is an inherited trait. It can happen after exercise, sports, sex, or even extremely cold weather. According to the Mayo Clinic, delaying treatment past six hours can cause infertility and sometimes calls for removal of the testicle. Nausea and fever can accompany testicular torsion. In most cases, surgery is needed to correct the problem.
Newborn males often have fluid surrounding the testicles. This is called hydrocele and can cause swelling and sometimes mild pain. Hydrocele can also occur in men older than age 40. Hydrocele usually resolves on its own without treatment. Surgery to drain the fluid is sometimes necessary if the hydrocele doesn't go away.
In males, the spermatic cord circulates blood to and from the testicles. When there is valve failure, the blood backs up and causes enlarged veins or varicocele. A dull pain and a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum accompany this. Anti-inflammatory medications usually take care of the problem. However, if they don't, outpatient surgery is performed to tie off the veins. There is usually no permanent damage.
A spermatocele is fluid in the testicles that collects dead sperm and forms into a cyst. It's common in men and usually causes only mild discomfort. If the cyst enlarges, a doctor can remove it by outpatient surgery.
Injury can cause mild to moderate testicle pain. Because the testicles sit in a sac, they are not protected by muscles and bones like other organs. Sports and exercise make them a target for injury. However, most testicular pain caused by injury is not serious and produces no long-lasting problems. Over-the-counter pain medication and an ice pack usually do the trick. Pain that becomes intense and is accompanied by swelling should be treated immediately by a doctor.
Pain in the testicles may be caused by mumps, kidney stones, a hernia, or may be referred pain from other parts of the groin. When there is no apparent reason for the pain, doctors will perform ultrasound, urinalysis and a prostate exam to determine the cause.
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