Testicles are egg-shaped glands located in the scrotum. Pain in the testicles can be caused by minor injuries to the area. However, if you are experiencing testicle pain and have not been injured, you need to have your symptoms evaluated.
Pain in the scrotum can be the result of serious conditions like testicular torsion or a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Ignoring the pain may cause irreversible damage to the testicles and scrotum.
Often problems with the testicles cause abdominal or groin pain before testicle pain develops. Unexplained abdominal or groin pain should also be evaluated by a doctor.
What Are the Common Underlying Causes of Testicle Pain?
A number of underlying health conditions can cause testicle pain. Trauma or injury to the testicles can cause pain. However, testicle pain is often the result of medical issues that will require treatment. These include:
- damage to the nerves of the scrotum caused by diabetic neuropathy
- epididymitis (inflammation of the testicles) caused by chlamydia (a sexually transmitted infection)
- gangrene (the death of tissues as a result of untreated testicular torsion or trauma)
- hydrocele (swelling of the scrotum)
- inguinal hernia
- kidney stones
- orchitis (inflammation of the testicle)
- spermatocele (fluid in the testicle)
- undescended testicle
- varicocele (enlarged veins in the testicle)
In some instances, pain in the testicle can be caused by a severe medical condition known as testicular torsion. When this condition occurs, the testicle may become twisted, cutting off blood supply to the testicle. This can cause damage to the tissue.
Testicular torsion is a medical emergency that must be treated quickly to prevent damage to the testicles. The condition occurs more frequently in males between the ages of 10 and 20.
Testicular pain is rarely caused by testicular cancer. Testicular cancer typically causes a lump to form on the testicles. The lump is often painless. Your doctor should evaluate any lump that forms on the testicle.
When Should You Call Your Doctor?
Call your doctor for an appointment if:
- you can feel a lump on your scrotum
- you develop a fever
- your scrotum is red, warm to the touch, or tender
- you have recently been in contact with someone that has the mumps
You should seek emergency medical attention if your testicle pain:
- is sudden or severe
- is caused by an injury that is painful or swollen after one hour
- occurs along with nausea and/or vomiting
How Can the Symptoms of Testicle Pain Be Treated?
Pain that does not require medical care can be treated at home using the following measures:
- wearing an athletic supporter (cup) to support the scrotum
- using ice to reduce swelling in the scrotum
- taking warm baths
- supporting the testicles while lying down by placing a rolled towel under the scrotum
- using over-the-counter pain medications, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to reduce pain
If the cause of your testicle pain is more serious, you will need to seek treatment from your doctor. Your doctor will complete a physical exam of your abdomen, groin, and scrotum to determine what is causing your testicle pain. Your doctor will also ask you about your current health conditions and if you have other symptoms.
To accurately diagnose your condition your doctor may need to order additional tests, including:
- ultrasound of the testicles (imaging test)
- urine cultures
- examination of secretions from the prostate (requires a rectal exam)
Once your doctor diagnoses the cause of your testicle pain, he or she will be able to provide treatment. Treatment may include:
- antibiotics to treat infection
- surgery to untwist testicles (in the case of testicular torsion)
- pain medications
- surgery to reduce fluid accumulation in the testicles
What Are the Complications of Testicular Pain?
Your doctor can successfully treat most cases of testicle pain. An untreated infection such as chlamydia or a serious condition such as testicular torsion may result in permanent damage to the testicles and scrotum. Damage may impact fertility and reproduction. Testicular torsion that results in gangrene can cause a life-threatening infection that can spread throughout the body.
How Can You Prevent Testicle Pain?
Not all cases of testicle pain can be prevented. However, there are some steps you can take to reduce the underlying causes of this pain. These steps include:
- wearing an athletic supporter to prevent injury to the testicles
- practicing safe sex, including using a condom during intercourse
- examining your testicles once a month to note changes or lumps
- preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs) by emptying your bladder completely when you urinate