Swollen testicles can be due to an injury, infection or disease.
Swollen, painful testicle symptoms can indicate a minor problem or it can be as serious as a precursor to a hernia or cancer. The testicles are located in the scrotum, which is a pouch underneath the penis. This allows the testicles to remain at a lower temperature than the body, allowing for better sperm production. Since the testicles dangle from the body, they are more susceptible to injury; the advantage of their location is that it makes it easier to examine them for masses.
Swollen testicles can be attributed to numerous factors, some of which are not life threatening. If the male recently received a kick in the genital area, the testicles could become inflamed and irritated. Most often, however, men discover lumps or masses through self-examination. Some common swollen, painful testicle symptoms include:
Inflammation of the epididymis is the most common cause of testicle pain in men. If for some reason the pain is sudden or severe, occurs from a puncture wound or is accompanied by nausea or vomiting, these should be considered emergencies, and the patient should seek immediate care. If left untreated, men run the risk of having consistent testicular pain, becoming infertile, having erectile dysfunction or in possibly the worst case, causing tissue death, which results in removal of the testicle.
Any type of mass or lump found in the scrotum should be examined by a doctor. Some typical causes of these masses include infection, cyst, inflammation, trauma, hernia or tumor, which can be benign or malignant. Infections occur when the tubular coil that collects the sperm from the testes becomes painful in the top and rear of the scrotum. This produces severe pain accompanied by fever and swelling. Cysts develop near the tubular coil near the top of the testicle. Inflammation occurs when an excessive collection of watery fluid forms near the testicle, which can happen on one side or both. With trauma, blood due to injury collects in the area that contains the testicle. A hernia develops when the small bowel locates a weak part of the groin's abdominal wall and enters. A bulge forms that may extend through to the scrotum.
Testicular cancer can oftentimes be found when the male's testicular area feels heavy. It is important to note, however, that many testicular cancers are not painful; they are often found after the male finds a lump through a testicular self-examination. In fact, according to the Cleveland Clinic, men may notice a small, pea-sized lump that may be uncomfortable but not painful in 90 percent of instances of cancer. Stage I testicular cancer is when the cancer is localized only in the testicle, while stage II testicular cancer occurs when it has spread to lymph nodes in the patient's abdomen.
Most scrotal masses require little, if any, invasive treatment, but the more serious masses demand surgical procedures. For infections, patients should be given antibiotics. Males who have smaller cysts usually need little treatment. If there is a larger cyst, it might be a case for surgery by draining the fluid build-up. For inflammation and trauma, there is no immediate treatment unless the scrotum is too swollen; in this case, men should seek a doctor's care. Hernias may require surgery if it becomes too painful, but patients should be forewarned that hernias can reoccur after surgery.
Stage I and stage II testicular cancer can be successfully treated in most cases. According to the National Cancer Institute, this disease occurs most often in men ages 20 through 39 and accounts for only 1 percent of all cancers in men. Around 8,000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer per year, with 390 succumbing to the disease annually. Depending upon how wide the cancer has spread, the doctor may choose to remove the testicle through an incision in the patient's groin. Radiation and chemotherapy are other options. Doctors may recommend that the patient consult with a urologist to seek the best medical options. Patients may end up having both surgery and radiation or chemotherapy, though it most often depends upon the type and stage of cancer, as well as the patient's age and health.
Additionally, there is only a 2 to 5 percent risk that men who have been treated for cancer involving one testicle may develop cancer in the other testicle during the next 25 years, according to Johns Hopkins University. Men should still continue to do self-examinations, as well as see a doctor annually, for preventative measures.