There are quite a few types of testicular and scrotal conditions. Testicular cancer is likely the most well-known condition, but there are many other benign conditions of the testes and scrotum that range from minor to life-threatening.
Some of the more common disorders and conditions that affect the testicles and scrotum are:
Epididymitis is inflammation or infection of the epididymis, which is the long tube that rests along the testicles. Epididymitis can be caused by sexually transmitted diseases, injury, a side effect from a vasectomy, and other problems. The symptoms of epididymitis may include pain (from mild to severe), swelling of the testicles or scrotum, nausea and vomiting, and fever.
Hydrocele is a buildup of fluid around the testicles. It can affect one or both testicles, and it can cause swelling in the scrotum and groin area. Hydrocele is not usually painful or harmful, and it may not need treatment. However, any swelling in the scrotum should be evaluated by a doctor. Once in a while, hydrocele can cause symptoms other than swelling, such as mild pain, tenderness, or redness of the scrotum. Hydrocele most often occurs in infants who have an opening between the abdomen and the scrotum, but sometimes they occur later in life. When men have hydrocele, it is usually caused by injury, inflammation, infection of the testicles, or epididymitis.
Testicular torsion occurs when the spermatic cord gets twisted and cuts off blood supply to the testicle. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment in order to save the testicle. Although surgery doesn’t guarantee that the testicle will be saved, not having treatment within six hours almost always results in permanent damage that requires testicle removal. Symptoms of testicular torsion include sudden onset of severe pain in the testicle that may be accompanied by swelling and tenderness of the testicles and scrotum, fever, and nausea and vomiting, among other symptoms.
A varicocele is enlarged or dilated veins in the scrotum. It is normally a painless and harmless condition; however, it can cause low sperm production and reduced sperm quality that can lead to male infertility. Sometimes, varicocele can produce symptoms, such as pain and swelling. Although most varicoceles don’t need to be treated, some will need to be corrected with surgery.
Hypogonadism is a condition that results when the testicles don’t produce enough of the hormone testosterone. A lack of testosterone in men can cause problems like erectile dysfunction, reduced sex drive, infertility, osteoporosis, increased breast tissue, decreased body and beard hair, depression, fatigue, and hot flashes. It can often be treated with testosterone replacement therapy. If there is an underlying cause of hypogonadism, such a pituitary condition, treating that problem may resolve the symptoms of hypogonadism.
Orchitis is inflammation of one or both testicles. Most of the time, it is caused by bacterial or viral infection. The mumps is a common cause of orchitis. Sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, can both lead to orchitis when they cause epididymitis (an infection of the epididymis), which in turn can lead to orchitis. This type of orchitis is called epidiymo-orchitis. Signs and symptoms of orchitis include testicular and scrotal pain and tenderness and infertility. Most of the time, it can be treated with medication and home remedies.
Spermatocele, otherwise known as spermatic cyst, is a fluid filled cyst that forms in the epididymis. Small cysts do not normally cause pain. Large cysts can cause pain or a heavy feeling in the affected testicle and swelling above and behind the testicle. If you have a large spermatocele and have pain or other symptoms, surgery may be an option.
Many testicular and scrotal conditions can cause testicular pain. Other conditions, like kidney and ureteral stones, infections, and inguinal hernias can also cause pain that can be felt in or around the testicles and scrotum. If you have testicular pain, you should contact your doctor right away. And if you experience a sudden onset of testicular pain, you should seek emergency medical care to rule out serious conditions like testicular torsion.
Most conditions of the scrotum and testicles can cause swelling, including varicocele, testicular torsion, orchitis, epididymitis and hydrocele, to name a few. If you notice any swelling of your testicles or scrotum, contact your doctor to make an appointment.
Other scrotal conditions
There are many conditions that can affect the scrotum. Not all of them will require treatment, but all scrotal conditions should be evaluated by a doctor. Some scrotal conditions are scrotal wall cellulites, scrotal abscess (infection of the scrotum), Fournier’s gangrene (also known as fasciitis of the scrotum and groin) and Henoch-Schonlein purpura (HSP).
If you have any symptoms of scrotal or testicular conditions, including pain, swelling, tenderness or a lump, call your doctor. Some conditions may be severe and can even be life threatening if not treated promptly.
Learn more about scrotal and testicular conditions