Testicles produce testosterone and sperm. Despite their important function, testicles endure a lot and are prone to several problems, such as swelling.
Testicular or scrotal swelling is an enlargement of the scrotal sac i.e. a man’s scrotum. This uncomfortable condition can occur due to injury or some medical problem or it can be acute scrotum injury.
Swelling can be painless or very painful. If you have a swollen testicle see a doctor, make sure that you have proper care and treatment. Scroll down to learn more about testicular swelling.
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Swollen testicle symptoms
Problems with testicles manifest themselves through uncomfortable symptoms that affect a man’s quality of life. Sometimes symptoms affect only one testicle e.g. right testicle, but in some cases, both testes are affected.
The most common symptoms of a swollen testicle includes:
- Painful swelling or a testicular lump
- Mild, moderate, or severe testicular pain
- Pain in pelvis and groin areas, lower back, and abdomen
- Feeling pressure or heaviness in scrotum/groin
- Tenderness, heat, or redness of the testicle or scrotum
- Veins on the scrotal skin are visibly enlarged
- Chills and fever
- Lymph nodes in the groin area are enlarged
- Nausea or vomiting
- Painful urination
- Pain with sexual intercourse or with ejaculation,
- Blood in the urine or semen
In a nutshell, the symptom you experience depends on the extent of swelling. Testicle pain is not the same for everyone. Some have mild pain, whereas other men have moderate or severe pain.
Enlarged testicles can occur due to several conditions and other problems. It is not a standalone disease but more of a symptom of other conditions or injuries. We’re talking about the acquired problems in men without undescended testicle problems.
Hydroceles and hernias are among the most common causes of painful scrotal swelling. A hydrocele is defined as a collection of fluid that can accumulate around the testicle. Since hydroceles sometimes occur in early development, some men have this condition at birth. And it can occur later in life due to injury or infection. In some cases, men develop hydroceles for no apparent reason i.e. the cause is unknown.
On the other hand, an inguinal hernia occurs when the intestines push through a tear or weak spot in the abdominal wall in the inguinal canal, which is in the groin. The condition can be congenital or acquired, and it is more prevalent in men. The main symptom of a hernia is swelling. Men who develop a hernia in adulthood usually have weakness in the groin area that makes their bowels drop down. Obesity, straining during lifting and bowel movements, increases the risk of hernia.
Testicular swelling can also occur due to the following causes:
- Cysts (small collections of fluid, similar to the pimple) e.g. epididymal cyst
- Injury or testicular trauma or to the groin e.g. due to sports, straddle injuries, car accidents
- Scrotal pain and groin pain
- Testicular torsion (an emergency, occurs when a testicle twists inside the scrotum), especially with testicular appendage
- Epididymitis or inflammation of epididymis, especially chronic epididymitis that may occur due to STI and urinary tract infection
- Allergies such as contact allergy and systemic allergy
- Edema or fluid retention due to congestive heart failure
- Orchitis (inflammation of one or both testicles)
- Tumors and testicular cancer, on rare occasions
- Bacterial infection
- Varicocele (swollen collection of veins in the scrotum)
Generally speaking, every man can develop testicular swelling. However, some people are at a higher risk than others.
Factors that increase the risk of swelling in the testes include:
- Unprotected sex
- Chronic cough or chronic constipation with subsequent straining
- Inflamed or enlarged prostate
- Having a bacterial illness that moves to the reproductive tract
- Being uncircumcised
- Regular use of a urinary catheter
- Having an STD
- Being born prematurely or with abnormalities in the reproductive/urinary tract
- Having sustained groin injury recently
- Undergoing vasectomy or urinary tract surgery
Once you describe the symptoms the doctor will presume testicular swelling is the problem. The healthcare professional will perform a physical exam of the scrotum and testicles to diagnose the exact condition to feel the testicle lump.
You will also need to answer questions about your medical history, recent injuries, and other symptoms. In some cases, a physical examination is not enough. To obtain more information for accurate diagnosis, the doctor may order an ultrasound or other imaging tests. The biopsy will be recommended only in cases when a doctor suspects the testicular tumor is the cause of testicle swelling.
The actual treatment of swollen testicle depends on the underlying cause. It is important to see the doctor to evaluate the scope of the problem and whether it affects the spermatic cord. Your healthcare provider will recommend taking pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs.
These medications can help decrease swelling and discomfort in the scrotal area. If you have painless swelling, applying something hot could help reduce the size of the swelling. In cases of hydrocele, your doctor may recommend surgery or a procedure to suction fluid from hydrocele. But, if the condition isn’t problematic, you may not need any treatment.
On the other hand, a hernia won’t go away on its own, and you may need surgery. Many cysts don’t need special treatment, but the doctor may drain them if they are painful or large. Varicocele doesn’t always need treatment, only when the condition harms your fertility. Treatment revolves around surgery to normalize blood flow.
How to get natural relief
As seen above, the actual treatment approach depends on the cause of testicular swelling.
However, there is a lot you can do to feel better and improve your symptoms. You may want to try:
- Gently apply an ice pack to the affected testicle to decrease swelling
- Use condoms every time you have sexual intercourse
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
- Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet
- Make overall healthy lifestyle adjustments by exercising regularly and getting enough sleep
- Keep pressure off the testicles by wearing athletic supporter gear
- Get much-needed rest after vigorous physical activities
When to see a doctor
Swelling in testicles, pain, and change of the color of the scrotum is not to be ignored. You should schedule an appointment to see your doctor immediately.
This is particularly important if you have sudden and severe pain and swelling in one or both testicles accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Since it can lead to tissue death, this is considered a medical emergency. Failing to get help could lead to the loss of testicles.
Swelling in testicles seems like an uncomfortable problem, and, as shown in this post, it really is. Various causes can lead to swollen testicle or swollen scrotum.
This testicular problem is treatable, and the exact treatment approach depends on the actual cause. See your doctor as soon as you notice changes or abnormalities in your genital area.