Testicular pain can be chronic -- an ongoing tenderness or dull pain that may come and go -- or acute -- a sharp, persistent pain that comes on very suddenly. Diagnosing the cause depends on the type of pain, whether it arose from an injury, the circumstances surrounding it and any accompanying symptoms. You should see a doctor about any acute testicular pain that lasts for more than a couple of hours, especially if the pain didn't result from trauma such as a sports injury or accidental blow.
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Wait an hour or so for pain to subside if you've just sustained trauma to your testicle. An accidental blow will result in very intense pain that should subside to a deep ache fairly quickly. If sharp pain persists, or if the testicle becomes red or swollen, seek medical attention.
Check the scrotum or surrounding area for bruising. A typical "black and blue" bruise is a sign of trauma and can often be only superficial. Pain should not be sharp and intense and should last no more than a couple of days.
Examine the scrotum for redness or inflammation. This, accompanied by severe pain, is often a sign of epididymitis. This condition is the result of a backflow of urine into the epididymis (the tube behind the testicles). Epididymitis can be caused by trauma, heavy lifting or sexually transmitted diseases. It may also be accompanied by nausea, fever and other flu-like symptoms. See a physician immediately if these symptoms develop. Treatment consists of a 10- to 14-day course of antibiotics.
Examine both testicles to determine if the pain and swelling are limited to one side. Severe, one-sided pain is typically a sign of testicular torsion. This very serious condition occurs when the testicle becomes twisted inside the scrotum. You may also experience nausea and vomiting. Head to the emergency room immediately. A doctor will usually recommend that surgery be performed within 24 hours to prevent long-term damage to the testicle.
See your primary care physician or urologist if you have duller testicular pain that is sporadic and does not involve redness, swelling, nausea or vomiting. The source of chronic pain can be more difficult to diagnose.
Tips and warnings
- In any case of severe or persistent testicular pain, you should consult your primary physician or urologist.
- Testicular cancer, while usually evidenced by a hard mass in the testicles, is rarely accompanied by any pain.
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