Swollen testicles can be a rather frightening situation for any man. Swollen testes are usually the result of some sort of injury, infection or inflammation. Injury is one of the most common reasons for a swollen testicle, and given that the area is very sensitive for most men, injury is often recognized immediately. Sometimes the swelling can be caused by a lump or a cyst within or around the testicle, and that can happen over a period of hours, days or weeks.
Sometimes only one testicle is swollen, but often both are swollen and tender. The swelling might be accompanied by pain and fever. Fortunately, most of the reasons for swollen testicles are temporary and will go away with home remedies.
Causes of Swollen Testicles
There are many reasons you might suffer from swollen testicles. Injury is at the top of the list. Other possibilities include infections, including things like mumps (which are relatively rare) or a scrotal sac infection (which is more common). Varicose veins in the scrotum might make the testicle appear enlarged. A hernia is often mistake for swelling. Inflammation, torsion of the testes and testicular cancer are also a few reasons why testicles might be swollen. Here is an in-depth look at the possibilities:
- Spermatocele. Each testicle has a little tube at the back called an epididymis. This tube holds the sperm while it matures. A cyst can form here, usually caused by blockage of the tube. This can lead to swelling, but not necessarily any pain.
- Hydrocele. This is a buildup of fluid in the testicles and is actually rather common. In fact, up to ten percent of males are born with this problem. It usually resolves on its own without any help from a doctor.
- Trauma or Injury. Even slight injury to the testicles can lead to swelling and pain. In most cases the injury is clear, and could be caused by anything from strenuous exercise to physical trauma. Any injuries to the testicles should be checked out by a doctor.
- Epididymitis. This is caused by inflammation of the epididymis. This can be caused by a bacterial infection or sexually transmitted disease. Symptoms include pain, swelling, painful intercourse, chills, fever, an unusual discharge and swollen lymph nodes in the body.
- Varicocele. A very common condition, this is a blockage of the veins that drain the testicles. A backup of blood in these veins can cause swelling. This can cause lumps in the testicles and might lead to infertility.
- Inguinal Hernia. This type of hernia happens when soft tissue, usually part of the intestines or the abdominal wall lining, pushes through a weak part of the abdominal wall. The bulge created by this can be painful and make it look as though your testicles are swollen. Surgeries for hernias are routine and often solve the problem.
- Orchitis. This is an inflammation and swelling of one or both testicles. It is usually caused by an infection or virus, such as mumps. It can also be caused by infections of the prostate or epididymis, or some sexually transmitted diseases. The swelling is usually accompanied by pain and doesn't resolve on its own.
- Testicular Torsion. This is a very painful condition in which the testes are twisted inside the scrotal sac. This can happen after an injury or strenuous exercise, or it might happen spontaneously. The result is significant pain. This condition requires immediate treatment.
- STDs. Sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea or chlamydia can cause swelling and pain in the testicles. There are usually other symptoms, such as burning upon urination, unusual discharge, and an urge to urinate frequently.
- Urethritis. An infection in the urinary tract can lead to swelling of the penis and testicles. It can also lead to blood in the urine, painful urination, constant urge to urinate and discharge from the penis.
- Testicular Cancer. Swollen testicles are the most common symptom of testicular cancer. That's why it is important to get any persistent swelling checked out by a doctor; but remember, not all cases of swelling mean something as serious as cancer.
Since swollen testicles can be caused by so many different things, it is very important to see a doctor for swollen testicles that don't quickly get better on their own. A doctor will run several tests to determine whether you need treatment at a hospital or clinic, or whether you can treat the problem at home.
Treatments for Swollen Testicles
You can't begin proper treatment until you know what you are treating. Speak with your doctor to figure out the cause of the problem, including what treatments you can use to help relieve the swelling. Some issues with swollen testicles can be taken care of at home. Here are a few steps to help you find relief.
- Treat Underlying Conditions. Once you know the cause, it pays to understand the exact treatments available and which one you want to use. Antibiotics and other medications might be ordered.
- Rest and Relieve. There are many ways to relieve the swelling at home. Rest matters. Try to rest with your pelvis elevated, thus keeping your testicles higher than your heart. You can also use cold packs to help relieve swelling. Over the counter medications can help. Don't forget to follow up with your doctor to make sure there is no lasting damage.
Swollen Testicles in Babies
Young babies might often have swollen testicles. If it happens within a few days after birth, there is usually no need to worry. That's just excess fluid in your baby's body, and it will soon be flushed out.
If only one testicle is swollen, your baby might be suffering from a hydrocele. This will likely go away by your child's first birthday. It likely won't cause him any pain, but always check with the doctor to make sure everything is okay.
If there is a hard lump in your baby's scrotum that gets larger when he cries, he might have a hernia. About 4% of boys are born with this condition. Minor surgery might be required to solve the problem. Again, be sure to speak to your doctor immediately if you notice this type of swelling.