Testicular pain may occur in one or both testicles, the male sex organs that lie in the scrotum. Pain may originate in the testicle or nearby parts of the reproductive tract, or it may be caused by a problem elsewhere in the abdomen, such as kidney stones or a hernia. The testicles are very sensitive to injury, and pain may be caused by even a mild blow to these organs. Infections or inflammatory conditions can also cause testicular pain. These include epididymis, inflammation of the ducts that carry sperm from the testicle, caused by sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia or by urinary tract infections, and orchitis,inflammation of one or both testicles from a bacterial or viral infection such as mumps. In some cases, no cause for testicle pain is identified. Inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis) can also contribute to testicular pain. Sometimes fluid may collect in the testicles, producing pressure on nerves and causing pain. This may result from varicocele (enlarged veins in the scrotum) spermatocele (fluid in the epididymis) or hydrocele (fluid around the testicle).
It is important to see a doctor if you experience sudden, severe pain in the testicle, as this can be a sign of testicular torsion (twisted testicle), in which the blood supply to the testicle has become obstructed. This condition requires immediate treatment to prevent permanent damage to the testicle.
Treatment of testicular pain can include observation, anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, antibiotics, and in some cases surgical intervention. For men with anatomic problems such as varicocele, spermatocele, and hydrocele, an outpatient surgery can correct the problem. At UCSF, we also have extensive experience in a new treatment for testicle pain called the “spermatic cord denervation.” This operation can offer pain relief up to 80% of the time for men with unknown causes of testicle pain.