Testicle Pain: Should I See a Doctor Immediately?

Most men have experienced testicle pain at some point in their lives and it is not a pleasant experience. The testicles are very sensitive and easily injured. Even minor injuries to the scrotum and testicles can cause significant pain. Just the thought of a groin injury can be enough to turn a man’s stomach.

Key takeaways:
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    The testicles are very sensitive and can be injured easily.
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    Testicular pain can be caused by injury, infection, inflammation, or other medical conditions, including testicular cancer.
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    Some conditions that cause testicular pain can affect male fertility or are potentially life-threatening.
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    Testicular pain can be a sign of a serious medical condition. Seek medical care for new, unexplained, or concerning testicle pain.

Aside from common minor injuries, many different conditions can cause pain in the scrotum and testes. Many of these can be medical emergencies and none should be taken lightly. Some conditions that cause testicular pain can affect male fertility or are potentially life-threatening. If you have testicle pain, you should seek medical attention.

The testicles and scrotum

The testicles, or testes, are male sexual organs, or gonads, that produce sperm. The testicles lie within the scrotum. The testicles are tethered to the body by the spermatic cord, a bundle of nerves, blood vessels, ducts, and muscles. The testes, like the rest of the groin, are highly innervated and very sensitive to touch, pressure, and other sensations. Pain in the testes and scrotum can be a sign of an injury or illness.

Testicular pain and other symptoms

Testicular pain can occur with a variety of other symptoms. Your healthcare provider will want to know about your pain and other symptoms to properly diagnose the cause of your pain.

Pain

There are different ways that pain can present itself. Pain can be sharp, stabbing, dull, aching, or throbbing. Pain can come on slowly or begin suddenly. It may occur in one or both testes or the scrotum and may also be felt in the lower abdomen, pelvis, or lower back.

Other symptoms

Swelling of one or both testes or the scrotum is common in conditions that cause testicular pain. In addition to pain and swelling, testicular injury or disease can cause nausea, vomiting, fever, bruising, painful urination, or urinary urgency. Blood in the urine or semen as well as discharge from the penis can also occur.

Causes of testicular pain

There are many possible causes of testicle pain. Treatment varies depending on the specific diagnosis:

Injury

Injury to the groin can cause testicular pain, swelling, and bruising. Minor injuries can be treated by applying ice and wearing a jockstrap or athletic supporter. However, injuries that result in cuts, bleeding, or severe pain may need immediate medical treatment, including surgery.

Testicular Torsion

Testicular Torsion occurs when a testicle gets twisted, cutting off blood flow and causing intense, sudden pain and swelling. It can also cause the testicle to sit in an unusual position. Testicular torsion is most commonly seen in teenagers but can occur at any age. Testicular torsion is a medical emergency that requires surgery.

Inflammation

Painful inflammation of the testes (orchitis) and/or epididymis (epididymitis) can be caused by infection. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can cause both of these conditions. Mumps is known to cause orchitis. Prostatitis, inflammation of the prostate gland, can also cause testicular pain and may be due to infection or other causes. Inflammation due to bacterial infection is treated with antibiotics. Other treatments include using nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), bed rest, and elevating the scrotum.

Fluid-filled cysts

Fluid can accumulate around a testicle (hydrocele) or epididymis (spermatocele), causing swelling and, sometimes, pain. This can cause discomfort and may require surgery or a procedure to aspirate the fluid (remove using a needle).

An inguinal hernia occurs when a portion of the intestines protrudes through the abdominal wall into the inguinal canal, where the spermatic cord lies. It can occur after straining, lifting something heavy, or even coughing. When you are asked to turn your head and cough in the doctor’s office, this is what they are checking for. A hernia can cause pain, swelling, and in severe cases bruising, loss of appetite, and inability to pass gas or have a bowel movement. Herniated intestines can become trapped, cutting off blood flow to the intestine; this is a medical emergency that may require immediate surgery. Mild hernias can often be pushed back into place and may not require surgery.

Testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is a serious concern for all men but is most common in 15- to 35-year-old men. Pain can be a symptom of testicular cancer, as well as bumps or lumps on the testes and swelling of the testes or scrotum. Testicular cancer can be deadly and requires immediate treatment. The surgical removal of an entire testicle is the primary treatment for testicular cancer.

Medical conditions

Medical conditions in other parts of the body can sometimes cause testicular pain. Kidney stones or a urinary tract infection can cause testicle pain as well as pain in the pelvis, abdomen, and lower back. Nerve damage caused by diabetes (diabetic neuropathy) can cause pain throughout the body.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing the cause of testicle pain requires a thorough medical history and physical exam to locate the source of pain and identify possible causes. Additionally, other tests may be needed, including a urine test, blood tests, STD screening, and a rectal exam. Imaging tests may also be required, including ultrasound, x-rays, a CT scan, or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

Seek medical help for testicle pain

Many different conditions can cause testicular pain. Injury, infection, inflammation, and cancer can all cause testicle pain and a wide range of other symptoms. While minor injuries to the testes are typically not serious, you should seek medical care for severe injuries. Additionally, any new or unexplained pain in the testicles or scrotum can be a sign of a serious medical condition that may require immediate treatment, including emergency surgery. Testicle pain should not be taken lightly; if you are concerned about testicular pain, seek proper medical care immediately.

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