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Swollen or painful testicle

4-minute read

The testicles (or testes) are very sensitive, and it can be very uncomfortable if they are swollen or painful. A swollen or painful testicle should not be ignored as it can be a sign of an urgent and serious illness.

Remember to regularly check your testicles for new lumps or swellings. Your doctor can show you how to do this if you are unsure. Most lumps are not cancer, but it’s important to have them checked out.

If pain is severe, or came on suddenly, seek medical help immediately by either calling your doctor, going to your nearest emergency department or calling an ambulance on triple zero (000). It may be a sign of a serious illness that requires urgent treatment.

You should also see a doctor immediately if you have pain in the testicles and have fevers and chills, or blood in your urine.

You should make an appointment to see your doctor within a few days if you have mild pain, or if you have a lump or swelling.

What causes swollen or painful testicles?

The pain or swelling could be caused by many things, including:

  • an injury
  • an infection such as mumps and other causes. Epididymitis is one of the most common causes of scrotal pain in men
  • a cyst — fluid-filled sac that can feel like a small, hard lump when touched. Cysts are usually harmless
  • testicular cancer
  • testicular torsion. This happens when a testicle twists in the scrotum and cuts off the blood supply, and causes swelling. This is a medical emergency — unless the condition is treated quickly, the testicle can die
  • problems with the nerves, arteries or veins, such as a varicocele, which is a lumpy area caused by swollen veins in the testicles

Swollen testes are more common in children. See your doctor if your son has symptoms of a scrotal lump. It could be the sign or an undescended testicle.

Baby boys can commonly experience a hydrocele, which is a sac filled with fluid around a testicle. It causes the scrotum to be swollen. This is usually harmless and goes away after a few months.

How are swollen or painful testes diagnosed?

Your doctor will examine your testicles and may also order urine tests and imaging tests such as an ultrasound.

How are swollen or painful testes treated?

Treatment will depend on what is causing the pain or swelling. For torsion of the testicles, an urgent operation is needed. Some conditions will require painkillers and supportive care (see self care).

Self care

If you have pain or swelling, you can ease some of the discomfort until you see a doctor by:

  • putting a rolled-up towel between your legs and under your scrotum to raise it up
  • cleaning any wound with warm water then covering the area with cling wrap
  • if there is any bleeding, apply direct pressure with the fingertips for at least 10 minutes
  • use an ice pack (a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel, for example) for 20 minutes, 4 times a day, to reduce any swelling

Don’t wrap anything around the penis or scrotum such as a bandage, tourniquet or sticky tape. Wearing an athletic support (jock strap) or supportive underwear might give some comfort to swollen testicles.

Suspicion of deliberate harm

If there is any suspicion that these symptoms were caused deliberately (on purpose), and were not the result of an accident, you should seek help from a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Consider talking to your doctor, community nurse, emergency department or school nurse.

If you are unsure who to speak to, call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 to discuss your concerns with a registered nurse.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your swollen or painful testicle, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2019


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