Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Testicular torsion

5-minute read

Key facts

  • Testicular torsion is when your testicle twists around, cutting off its blood supply.
  • It causes sudden, severe pain and swelling in your scrotum.
  • Testicular torsion needs emergency surgery to prevent permanent damage to your testicle.
  • During surgery, the testicle is untwisted and stitched in place so it can't twist again.
  • Testicular torsion is most common in teenagers, but it can occur at any age.

What is testicular torsion?

Testicular torsion happens when one of your testicles twists around.

Each testicle is attached to a spermatic cord, which contains blood vessels that carry blood to the testicle. In testicular torsion, this becomes twisted (called torsion) and blocks the flow of blood to the testicle.

Testicular torsion is an emergency. If the blood supply is cut off for too long, your testicle could become permanently damaged.

Testicular torsion is most common in teenage males, but can occur at any age.

When should I go to the emergency department?

If you or your child has sudden pain in the scrotum or sudden pain in the lower abdomen (tummy area), go to your nearest hospital emergency department immediately. These are signs of testicular torsion, which is an emergency and requires surgery within a few hours.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

What are the symptoms of testicular torsion?

Symptoms of testicular torsion include:

  • sudden, severe pain in your scrotum
  • swelling and redness of your scrotum
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • pain in your lower abdomen or thigh
  • your testicle being higher than normal or on an unusual angle
  • difficulty walking

Sometimes, testicular torsion can cause a sudden pain that goes away without treatment. This happens if your testicle twists and then untwists on its own. If this happens, see a doctor as soon as possible. You may need surgery to prevent it happening again.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

What causes testicular torsion?

It is not always clear why a testicle twists. Sometimes it happens after intensive exercise or an injury to the area, but most of the time there is no known cause.

Some people have testicles that are held in place loosely inside their scrotum and can move more easily than for other people. This can lead to testicular torsion.

Testicular torsion is also more likely if:

  • it runs in your family
  • you or your child is going through puberty, which is a time when the testicles grow especially fast
  • you or your child has undescended testicles
Illustration of male anatomy, including normal state of testicle, bell clapper deformity, torsion of testicle and necrosis of testicle.
An inherited trait, where a male's testicle moves freely inside the scrotum (known as 'bell clapper deformity'), might cause testicular torsion. If left untreated, the condition can lead to a permanently damaged or dead testicle which must then be removed.

How is testicular torsion diagnosed?

To diagnose testicular torsion, your doctor will need to examine your scrotum. This might feel embarrassing and awkward, but it is very important. You will also be examined by a surgeon.

There is usually no need for any tests. You might have an ultrasound of your scrotum or abdomen if it's not clear what is causing the pain in your scrotum or abdomen.

How is testicular torsion treated?

Testicular torsion is generally treated with surgery, which is done as soon as possible. For the best chance of preventing permanent damage your testicle, surgery should be done within 6 hours from when the pain started.

During the operation, the surgeon will make a small cut in your scrotum and untwist the spermatic cord. They will then stitch your testicle to the inside of the scrotum to prevent it from twisting again. The surgeon might stitch your other testicle in place too.

You will need to have a general anaesthetic. The operation lasts about half an hour, and most people go home within the next 24 hours. It's best to wait a few weeks before playing sport.

Can testicular torsion be prevented?

For most people, there is no known way of preventing testicular torsion.

If your child has undescended testicles, they may need an operation to bring their testicles down and fix them in the scrotum. This will prevent problems — including torsion — in the future.

Complications of testicular torsion

If not treated quickly enough, your testicle could be permanently damaged, or the testicle could die. This could also lead to:

If your testicle has died, you will need to have an operation to remove it. The surgeon will stitch your other testicle in place so it can't twist.

Resources and support

The Royal Children's Hospital provides clinical guidelines on testicular pain or swelling and torsion, advising that this is an emergency.

If you are concerned about testicular torsion, call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 at any time to speak to a registered nurse (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria) for more information and advice.

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

Last reviewed: October 2023


Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Testicular torsion: Rick's painful encounter with twisted testicles | myVMC

Testicular torsion is a painful experience and, as Rick explains, it can happen to any man at any time. So it might be a good idea to read on and be prepared, just in case.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Testicular conditions

A number of conditions can affect the testicles (the male sex glands where sperm are made.)

Read more on WA Health website

Scrotal Lumps, Testicular Pain, Twisted Testicles Causes & Treatment | Healthy Male

Testicular or scrotal lumps can be a sign of problems with your testicles. This may be caused by injury but can also be indicative of an underlying medical problem.

Read more on Healthy Male website

Epididymitis - Better Health Channel

Epididymitis is an infection that causes inflammation of the epididymis.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Testicle injuries and conditions - Better Health Channel

If you injure your testicles, always seek urgent medical advice.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Undescended testicles - MyDr.com.au

About 1 in 20 boys in Australia are born with undescended testicles - a condition known as cryptorchidism where the testes have not moved down into the scrotum.

Read more on myDr website

Undescended testicle in boys | Raising Children Network

An undescended testicle is when one or both testicles don’t move into the scrotum before birth. Although common, undescended testicles need medical attention.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.