The onset of swollen testicles is just like any testicular pain in the terms that it has multiple causes, some of them more severe than others. In simpler words, testicular swelling can be understood as enlargements formed locally around and on the scrotum. It may be one-sided or bilateral. Sometimes it may cause pain but at other instances it may present with different symptoms.
The scrotum or the scrotal sac contains the testicles and the swelling of the testicles can be caused either by an injury or any underlying medical condition that may require urgent medical attention.
Causes of Swollen Testicles
The swelling of the testicles can either be sudden or slow and one of the most common causes of its swelling is torsion. Testicular torsion is an episode in which the scrotum is twisted which twists the testicles present inside causing an immense amount of pain and cuts the blood supply to the testicles. If left untreated, the testicles may die out in a matter of hours. Other causes include;
- A hernia. Hernia is a protrusion of the gut (mainly intestine) due to an abnormality in the walls of the abdomen extending down to the crotch or groin region. A hernia can cause the testicles to swell lead by a sharp pain of the testicles
- Tumors. Tumor of the prostate or testicles can be a major cause of the testicular
- Hydrocele. When fluid in the body accumulates around the scrotum or testicular region it causes swelling of the testicles or the sac. It occurs due to an injury in men and young boys.
- Varicocele. Varicocele is the enlargement or swelling up of the veins around the scrotum and it does not concern the scrotum itself.
- Testicular Cancer. Cancerous cells have the tendency to multiply and divide an indefinite number of times and to metastasize. The presence of swelling on the scrotum is a major sign that there may be chances of testicular cancer.
- Congestive Heart Failure. Congestive heart failure causes the buildup of fluid in the lower half of the body. As the fluid builds up, the lower extremities swell up further causing testicular swelling.
- Insect Bites. Formation of bumps on the scrotum with mild itchiness and some redness are signs of a bug bite on the scrotum. Visit your physician if you experience similar issues.
- Cellulitis– Cellulitis is a skin infection caused by certain bacteria. The swelling in the testicular regions is caused by immense inflammation and accumulation of fluid around the areas of the scrotum causing testicular swelling
- Genital Lymphedema- lymphedema is an accumulation of fluid around a certain area. Genital lymphedema builds up around the crotch causing swelling of the scrotum. It is due to the obstruction in a Lymphatic system that prevents efficient drainage of lymph fluid.
- Mumps- Males who are affected by mumps after puberty is at a higher risk of developing testicular swelling. The testicular swelling usually begins a week after the parotid gland swelling and it can last up to 5-7 weeks.
Some of the many other instances that lead to scrotal swelling are as follows;
Swollen Testicles After Hernia Surgery
During the developmental stages, when the testicles proceed down towards the scrotum, space is left behind which normally should be filled up as the years pass. If that space still remains empty, a portion of the intestine protrudes out into that space causing a massive hernia. After surgery of an inguinal hernia, swelling in the testicles is a pretty common symptom seen among the patients, it is a reaction of the local tissue injury or swelling to the surrounding area during injury. In the surgery, the inguinal canal is separated from the blood vessels and during the process, the surrounding area may be damaged or injured causing massive swelling of the testicles with stabbing pain. There can be many other reasons like nerve damage etc. The healing of the whole area including groin and abdomen can take up to six months to heal. If it does not heal after that, consult your physician. If a hernia is left untreated for long, it can obstruct the blood supply towards the testes leading an extreme surgical removal of the testes.
Swollen Testicles and STDs
For men who are sexually active and suffer from swelling of both their testicles, there is a chance that they might be suffering from Chlamydia.
Swollen testicles caused by chlamydia sometimes show no symptoms at all in 50% of the men, but when it does, the symptoms include
- Yellow and watery discharge from the penis
- Rectal pain followed by bleeding or watery discharge
- Inflammation of the joints
- Inflammation of the eyes
- Pain while ejaculating or urinating
- Inflammation around the Penis
- Swelling of the scrotum (usually one-sided)
The condition can be treated easily by the use of antibiotics but if left unnoticed or untreated for long it can descend down to the urethras (tubes or channels that connect your kidneys to your urinary bladder) causing severe infection and excruciating pain during urination. From the urethra, the bacteria spread to the epididymis hence a major cause of infertility and difficulty while ejaculating in men.
A vasectomy is a surgical procedure in which the vas deferentia, the canals that transfer mature sperms from the testes to the urethra to be ejaculated out of the body. The procedure helps those who do not wish to have children ever in their life. There is usually no serious complication to the surgery and it is done within a few hours under the use of a local anesthesia but swollen testes after vasectomy are very common and may have a number of causes;
- Not giving yourself enough time to recover from the surgery and heading back to work can cause swelling in the scrotum followed by pain. Sometimes lifting heavy objects can cause sudden or immense pain leading to testicular swelling. Normally the patient is advised to rest for at least a week and a half to be perfectly sure not to injure themselves again.
- Scrotal support is a device that is given to patients immediately after their surgery. The patients are told to wear them at all times until they recover from the vasectomy. If the device is not used for at least 3-4 days, it may lead to severe scrotal swelling and late recovery.
- If the skin of the scrotum appears to be inflamed with oozing pus, chances are that the area has been infected. It is best to notify the doctor as soon as you see the symptoms
- Sometimes there can be bruises formed on the area of incision due to bad blood circulation around the incised region which leads to general area swelling. This is normal and should go away within a few weeks.
- Not applying an ice pack on your crotch during the initial 9 hours after the surgery will cause more chances of any developing swelling. The ice packs should be wrapped in a towel and applied gently onto the affected area.
Swollen Testicles in Toddler
Scrotal or testicular swelling is very common among toddlers and a young boy. It is usually divided into two types of swellings, painful and painless.
Painless Testicular Swelling
- Hydroceles- hernias, and hydroceles are probably the two most common causes of swelling. They are the openings that are left behind when testicles are drawn into the scrotum during the ages of development. Hydroceles are just the fluids that pass down with the testicles into the scrotum and accumulate there causing swelling. Hydroceles usually go away within a few weeks or month but if it does not disappear or normalize, the child might require surgery.
- Hernias- Hernias are formed when the space that is left behind during the passage of testicles into the scrotum is not filled after the developmental ages have passed. It causes the intestines to pass into the opening and protrude out. Hernias are common among babies that are born prematurely.
- Varicoceles- Varicoceles are usually observed in younger boys mostly who are adolescent where the swelling is caused due to enlarged veins.
- Right after birth- If a newborn baby has swelling in his scrotum. The swelling is harmless and may be due to the extra fluid present in their bodies or due to the dose of hormones they have received while they were still in their mother’s womb.
- Others- many other causes like idiopathic scrotal edema or tumors. The term idiopathic is used when the doctors are not sure of the underlying cause of the swelling
Painful Testicular Swelling
- Epididymitis and orchitis- These are solely virus and bacterial infections. Though the pain is less severe and mild, it does happen quite often especially in young boys who have recently been infected with mumps and already have a weak immune system. The symptoms include swelling and pain followed by a sudden heaviness in the chest. Sexually transmitted diseases that are transferred from a mother who got infected with an STD like gonorrhea and chlamydia while she was pregnant with her newborn via the birth canal can cause epididymitis.
- Stuck Zipper- getting the penis or the foreskin of the scrotum stuck in a zipper can cause massive and immediate pain followed by inflammation of the skin and swelling of the area.
- Schönlein-Henoch purpura- This condition causes an extreme swelling of the testes in young boys including rash all over the body, stomach cramps, pain in the joints and trickling of blood in the urine.
- Others- allergic reactions, insect bites, playground fights, testicular torsion.
Swollen Testicles and Stomach pain
Before the onset of testicular swelling, severe stomach pain may arise which could be an indication towards the future swelling because the same sets of nerve endings supply the abdominal and the scrotal regions which are why the pain is originating from another source can be felt in an area which is unrelated to the disease or condition at hand.
For example, if a man is injured in the crotch region and there is an apparent damage to the scrotum, he will feel a sudden pain in his stomach after a while, followed by cramps, nausea and then vomiting, including difficulty in urinating. If stomach pain is apparent it can be a sign that testicular swelling will follow. In this case, immediate medical attention is advised.