Testicular Swelling Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

A mild swollen testicle after an injury is common and often goes away after a few days. However, large, or sudden swelling should be immediately treated, as it may point to a more serious underlying condition. Read more below to learn 6 possible causes, treatment, and more.

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Contents

  1. Symptoms
  2. Causes
  3. 6 Possible Testicular Swelling Conditions
  4. Treatments and Relief
  5. FAQs
  6. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  7. Statistics
  8. Related Articles
  9. References

Testicular Swelling Symptoms

The testicles may seem to be somewhat vulnerable, yet their location also allows any problem to be quickly noted and readily treated [1].

It is important to have any testicular swelling symptoms treated right away in order to prevent possible loss of fertility. The medical provider will be glad to treat you, or to refer you to someone who can. Testicular swelling is also called scrotal swelling [2].

Common characteristics of swollen testicles

If you're experiencing swollen testicles, it's also likely to experience:

Who is most often affected by testicular swelling symptoms?

Testicular swelling happens most often to men who:

  • Are uncircumcised
  • Have unprotected sex
  • Have contracted a sexually transmitted disease [4]
  • Have another bacterial illness that migrates to the reproductive tract
  • Have an enlarged or inflamed prostate
  • Have a chronic cough or chronic constipation, with subsequent straining
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Have recently had a groin injury, urinary tract surgery, or a vasectomy
  • Regularly use a urinary catheter
  • Were born prematurely and/or with abnormalities of the urinary or reproductive tract: Fluid around the testes is most common in infants but can occur in adult men as well.

Are testicular swelling symptoms serious?

The severity of swollen testicles is ultimately dependent on the cause.

  • Not serious: Mild swelling following a minor injury should clear up in just a few days [2].
  • Moderately serious: Larger swelling in a testicle, along with pain, fever, and sometimes abnormal discharge, can lead to scar tissue and loss of fertility if not treated.
  • Serious: Sudden severe pain and swelling in a testicle will result in loss of fertility if not immediately treated [6].

Testicular Swelling Causes

Many conditions can have testicular swelling as a symptom. The most common are those involving trauma, disease, and structural abnormalities of the urinary and reproductive tracts, as well as tumors [3].

Most common testicular swelling cause types

The most common causes of testicle swelling includes the following.

  • Trauma: Swelling is normal in any part of the body following a direct hit, especially while doing something like playing sports, falling down, or being involved in a car accident [1, 2].
  • Disease or illness : Acute inflammation of one or both testes may occur from either bacteria or virus [4]. Inflammation of the epididymis may also lead to swelling, usually in men under 35, typically from a bacterial sexually transmitted disease; however, a urinary tract infection or an infected prostate gland can spread bacteria to the testicles [4]. Superficial inflammation or infection of just the scrotal skin can also lead to swelling [2].

Less common testicular swelling causes

Less common causes of swollen testicles include the following.

  • Torsion: This is twisting of the testicle on its spermatic cord (the blood supply) [1-3].
  • Accumulation of fluid in a sac that forms around the testicle: This usually occurs in infants but can happen in adult men as well [3].
  • Inguinal hernia: With an inguinal hernia, a loop of intestine pushes through a weak spot in the tissue that lines the abdominal wall. The loop drops down into the scrotum, creating pain and what looks like a large swelling [2,3].
  • If the veins on and within the scrotum become enlarged: This will interfere with blood supply and can affect fertility [7].

Allergies

Allergies can result in swollen testicles.

  • Contact allergy: This may occur from something that has directly touched the skin, such as soap, lotions, irritating plants, or an insect bite [10].
  • Systemic allergy: This may occur from something you have eaten or medications you have taken [11].

Edema, or fluid retention

Congestive heart failure can lead to system-wide edema [2].

Rare and unusual testicular swelling causes

The following, although possible, are the least likely causes of swollen testicles.

  • Rare parasitic worms which can migrate into the scrotum: Especially in third-world countries [12].
  • Tumor or other abnormal growths: Either benign or malignant [3,4]

6 Possible Testicular Swelling Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced testicular swelling. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Epididymitis

Epididymitis is an inflammation of one or both of the tubes of the epididymis, a coiled tube which stores sperm inside each testicle. It is caused by a bacterial infection, most often from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Epididymitis can also be caused by a urina...

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Intermittent testicular torsion

Intermittent testicular torsion is also called ITT or chronic testicular torsion. Torsion refers to an abnormal twisting of the spermatic cord, which runs from each testicle up into the abdomen and carries blood vessels, nerves, and sperm-transporting ducts.

In intermittent cases, the testicle becomes untwisted on its own and the symptoms spontaneously resolve. The condition nearly always returns, however, and may continue to come and go.

The cause is believed to be a congenital abnormality that leaves the testicle insufficiently anchored within the scrotum.

Symptoms include sudden, severe groin and testicular pain with nausea and vomiting, followed by spontaneous relief of symptoms even without treatment.

Eventually, testicular torsion can result in loss of circulation followed by tissue death and loss of the testicle. Any type of testicular torsion is a medical emergency. Take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination and sometimes ultrasound.

Treatment involves emergency surgery to untwist the spermatic cord and anchor the testicle in its proper place within the scrotum.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: nausea, testicle pain that comes and goes, vomiting, pain in one testicle, testicular swelling

Symptoms that always occur with intermittent testicular torsion: testicle pain that comes and goes

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Testicular cancer

The testicles, or the male sex glands, are two egg-shaped glands located in a sac of skin (scrotum) beneath the penis. Most testicular cancers originate in the germ cells of the testicles, which produce immature sperm that then matures in order to fertilize a female egg and start a pre...

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Testicular Swelling Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your testicular swelling

Testicular torsion

In torsion, the testicle is inadequately attached to the scrotum, allowing it to rotate freely within. This can lead to twisting of the testicle about the blood vessels to which it is connected, cutting off blood flow and leading to severe pain and the eventual death of the testicl...

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Non-serious testicle injury

Being struck in the testicles is very common, and despite the intense pain that follows, rarely requires professional medical care.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: testicle pain from an injury, testicle injury

Symptoms that always occur with non-serious testicle injury: testicle injury

Urgency: Self-treatment

Orchitis

Orchitis occurs when one or both testicles are inflamed. This is often caused by sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea or chlamydia. More rarely, orchitis is caused by a virus.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: spontaneous testicle pain, fever, tender testicular swelling, muscle aches, new headache

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Testicular Swelling Treatments and Relief

When swollen testicles are an emergency

Seek immediate treatment in the emergency room, or call 911, if you have sudden severe pain and swelling in one or both testicles, along with nausea and vomiting [15]. This is considered a medical emergency because it can result in tissue death and loss of the testicles.

When to see a doctor for swollen testicles

You should schedule an appointment sooner than later for pain, swelling, and fever with burning on urination and abnormal discharge from the penis.

At-home treatments for swollen testicles

For occasional or mild testicular swelling, or to find relief while you wait for your appointment, you can try the following remedies at home.

  • Ice pack: If the pain seems minor, you can use an ice pack to reduce swelling [1,2].
  • Pain medication: Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or other NSAIDs [15].
  • Wear an athletic supporter to help take the pressure off of the testicles
  • Rest and avoid strenuous activities: Especially lifting anything heavy [11]
  • Address overall health: Make lifestyle improvements in diet, exercise, and sleep [6]
  • Always use protection during sexual activity

FAQs About Testicular Swelling

Here are some frequently asked questions about testicular swelling.

Can a UTI cause testicular swelling?

Yes, urinary tract infections (UTIs) can cause testicular swelling [4]. Infections from the urethra can travel down the vas deferens to the epididymis or testes to cause an infection. Inflammation and swelling will result from the infection. The bacteria E. Coli and pseudomonas are the most common culprits in older men [5], while gonorrhea and chlamydia are the most common culprits in men under the age of 35 [4].

Can STDs cause testicular swelling?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs, also known as sexually tranmitted infections) can cause testicular swelling in the same way that non-sexually transmitted urinary tract infections can cause testicular swelling [2, 4]. The mechanism involves colonization of the urethra by the organism and then traveling down the vas deferens to the epididymis or testes. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are the most common sexually transmitted causes of testicular swelling [8].

Can kidney stones cause testicular swelling?

While kidney stones can sometimes cause pain that radiates down to the testicles, they do not cause testicular swelling [16].

How long does testicular swelling last?

How long testicular swelling lasts depends on the cause. If testicular torsion is the cause, immediate detorsion is required within 48 hours of the onset of testicular swelling and pain [2]. Symptoms should improve immediately after the procedure. In the case of an infection causing swelling, symptoms typically improve within 13 days of antibiotic treatment initiation, but it may take up to 4 weeks for complete resolution.

Why is only one of my testicles swollen?

Unilateral testicular swelling can occur due to the same reasons you may have bilateral testicular swelling torsion, infection, fluid collection, hernia so it is not very helpful in determining the etiology [2, 3, 8]. More useful in evaluating the acute swelling is the nature and timing of the onset of pain, the particular area of the testicle that is swollen, and the presence of fever and lower urinary tract symptoms (e.g. frequency, urgency, painful urination). While a less common cause of swelling, a persistently enlarged testicle should be evaluated to exclude a malignant growth.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Testicular Swelling

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Do you notice anything going on with your testicles or scrotum?
  • Are you sexually active?
  • Do you feel pain when you urinate?
  • Have you experienced any nausea?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Please take a quiz to find out what might be causing your testicular swelling. These questions are also covered.

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Testicular Swelling Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced testicular swelling have also experienced:

  • 15% Testicle Pain
  • 13% Pain In One Testicle
  • 3% Abdominal Pain (Stomach Ache)

People who have experienced testicular swelling were most often matched with:

  • 38% Epididymitis
  • 30% Intermittent Testicular Torsion
  • 30% Testicular Cancer

People who have experienced testicular swelling had symptoms persist for:

  • 39% Less than a week
  • 25% Less than a day
  • 19% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

Testicular Swelling Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your testicular swelling

References

  1. Swollen or Painful Testicle. healthdirect. Published August 2017. healthdirect Link.
  2. Shah AP. Scrotal Swelling. Merck Manual Consumer Version. Updated September 2017. Merck Manual Consumer Version Link.
  3. Sobol J. Scrotal Masses. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Published August 26, 2017. MedlinePlus Link.
  4. Crawford P, Crop JA. Evaluation of Scrotal Masses. American Family Physician. 2014;89(9):723-727. AAFP Link.
  5. Epididymitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated January 28, 2011. CDC Link.
  6. What is Male Infertility? Urology Care Foundation. Urology Care Foundation Link.
  7. Varicocele. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Johns Hopkins Medicine Link.
  8. What are Epididymitis and Orchitis? Urology Care Foundation. Urology Care Foundation Link.
  9. Epididymitis. BetterHealth Channel. Updated July 2018. BetterHealth Channel Link.
  10. Krishnan A, Kar S. Scrotal Dermatitis - Can We Consider It As A Separate Entity? Oman Medical Journal. 2013;28(5):302-305. OMJ Link.
  11. Sobol J. Scrotal Swelling. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Updated January 30, 2017. MedlinePlus Link.
  12. Parasites - Lymphatic Filariasis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated September 27, 2018. CDC Link.
  13. What is Testicular Torsion? Urology Care Foundation. Urology Care Foundation Link.
  14. Gupta R, Senadhi V. A Diagnostic Dilemma: Metastatic Testicular Cancer and Systemic Sarcoidosis - A Review of the Literature. Case Reports in Oncology. 2011;4:118-124. Karger Link.
  15. Sobol J. Testicle Pain. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Updated August 26, 2017. MedlinePlus Link.
  16. Shah AP. Scrotal Pain. Merck Manual Consumer Version. Updated September 2017. Merck Manual Consumer Version Link.