What is testicular pain?
Testicular pain is pain or discomfort that is felt in one or both testicles. The pain may originate from the testicle itself, or it may be the result of other conditions affecting the scrotum, groin or abdomen. Though there are numerous medical conditions that can cause testicular pain, it is important to understand that a few of them constitute medical emergencies that require immediate medical attention in order to prevent impairment or loss of testicular function. Testicular pain can be an acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) condition. The testicular pain may be constant or intermittent.
Causes of testicular pain
Testicle pain has a number of possible causes. The testicles are very sensitive, and even a minor injury can cause testicle pain or discomfort. Testicle pain might arise from within the testicle itself or from the coiled tube and supporting tissue behind the testicle (epididymis).
Sometimes, what seems to be testicle pain is caused by a problem that starts in the groin, abdomen or somewhere kidney stones and some hernias can cause testicle pain. The cause of testicle pain can’t always be identified.
Causes of testicle pain or pain in the testicle area can include:
- Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage caused by diabetes)
- Drug side effect, such as certain antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs
- Epididymitis (testicle inflammation)
- Gangrene (specifically, a type of gangrene called Fournier’s gangrene)
- Overview (blood vessel inflammation)
- Hydrocele (fluid buildup that causes swelling of the scrotum)
- Idiopathic testicular pain (unknown cause)
- Inguinal hernia
- Kidney stones
- Orchitis (inflamed testicle)
- Prostatitis (infection or inflammation of the prostate)
- Scrotal masses
- Spermatocele (fluid buildup in the testicle)
- Testicle injury or blow to the testicles
- Testicular cancer
- Testicular torsion (twisted testicle)
- Undescended testicle (also called cryptorchidism)
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Varicocele (enlarged veins in the scrotum)
What are testicular pain symptoms?
With testicular pain, the health care professional’s first goal is to determine whether or not the pain is caused by testicular torsion, because this is a surgical emergency requiring prompt medical attention. Though the following information may be used to help differentiate the symptoms of testicular torsion and epididymitis, any individual with testicular pain should not delay seeking medical evaluation, as distinguishing between the two can often be difficult.
- Pain from testicular torsion usually comes on suddenly.
- Pain from epididymitis usually begins gradually. Early on, the pain due to epididymitis is frequently localized to the area of the epididymis itself.
- With testicular pain from any source, the affected individual may experience any of the following symptoms:
- swelling, tenderness, or redness of the testicles and scrotum;
- nausea and vomiting;
- painful urination or penile discharge; and
- pain with sexual intercourse, pain with ejaculation, or blood in the urine or semen.
What kind of doctor treats testicular pain?
Certain uncomplicated conditions leading to testicular pain can be managed by your primary care doctor or internist. However, depending on the underlying cause, a specialist may need to become involved in the management of your condition. The specialists may include the following:
- General Surgeons
Non-urgent causes of testicle pain, such as minor injuries and fluid collection, can often be treated with home care. The following steps may reduce discomfort and swelling:
- Provide support to the scrotum by wearing an athletic supporter.
- Apply ice to the scrotum.
- Take warm baths if there are signs of swelling.
- While lying down, place a rolled towel under your scrotum.
- Try over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Do NOT give aspirin to children.
Preventive measures to take:
- Prevent injury by wearing an athletic supporter during contact sports.
- Follow safe sex practices. If you are diagnosed with chlamydia or another STD, all of your sexual partners need to be checked to see if they are infected.
- Make sure that children have received the MMR (mumps, measles, and rubella) vaccine.