Testicles are egg-shaped reproductive organs located in the scrotum. Pain in the testicles can be caused by minor injuries to the area. However, if you’re experiencing pain in the testicle, 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 pain in the testicle develops. Unexplained abdominal or groin pain should also be evaluated by your doctor.
What Are the Common Underlying Causes of Pain in the Testicle?
Trauma or injury to the testicles can cause pain, but pain in the testicle 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, or inflammation of the testicles, caused by the STI chlamydia
- gangrene, or the death of tissues, as a result of untreated testicular torsion or trauma
- a hydrocele, which is characterized by swelling of the scrotum
- an inguinal hernia
- kidney stones
- orchitis, or inflammation of the testicle
- a spermatocele, or fluid in the testicle
- an undescended testicle
- a varicocele, or a group of enlarged veins in the testicle
In some instances, pain in the testicle can be caused by a severe medical condition known as testicular torsion. In this condition, the testicle becomes 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.
Pain in the testicle is rarely caused by testicular cancer. Testicular cancer typically causes a lump on the testicles that’s often painless. Your doctor should evaluate any lump that forms on your testicles.
When Should You Call Your Doctor?
Call your doctor for an appointment if:
- you feel a lump on your scrotum
- you develop a fever
- your scrotum is red, warm to the touch, or tender
- you’ve recently been in contact with someone who has the mumps
You should seek emergency medical attention if your testicular pain:
- is sudden or severe
- occurs along with nausea or vomiting
- is caused by an injury that’s painful or if swelling occurs after one hour
How Can Pain in the Testicle Be Treated?
Pain that doesn’t require medical care can be treated at home using the following measures:
- Wear an athletic supporter, or cup, to support the scrotum.
Use ice to reduce swelling in the scrotum.
- Take warm baths.
- Support your testicles while lying down by placing a rolled towel under your scrotum.
- Use over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce pain.
With more severe pain, you’ll need to seek treatment from your doctor. Your doctor will complete a physical exam of your abdomen, groin, and scrotum to determine what’s causing your pain and will also ask you about your current health conditions and any other symptoms.
To accurately diagnose your condition your doctor may need to order additional tests, including:
- an ultrasound, which is a type of imaging test, of the testicles and scrotal sac
- a urinalysis
- urine cultures
- an examination of secretions from the prostate, which requires a rectal exam
Once your doctor diagnoses the cause of your pain, they’ll be able to provide treatment. The treatment may include:
- antibiotics to treat an infection
- surgery to untwist the testicle if you have testicular torsion
- a surgical evaluation for potential correction of an undescended testicle
- 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 pain in the testicle. An untreated infection such as chlamydia or a serious condition such as testicular torsion may result in permanent damage to your 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 your body.
How Can You Prevent Pain in the Testicle?
Not all cases of pain in the testicle can be prevented, but 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 per month to note changes or lumps
- emptying your bladder completely when you urinate to help prevent urinary tract infections
If you practice these steps and still experience testicular pain, seek medical treatment immediately.