When testicular health is discussed, much of the focus is on cancer, and rightly so — by encouraging men to check their testes regularly and to understand what signs to look out for, the seriousness of testicular cancer can be drastically reduced, since it's something that's frequently treated successfully when it's caught early.
Of course, there are lots of other potential testicular problems, which vary in their severity. One condition that you should be aware of is testicular torsion. It's extremely important that someone who develops this problem gets medical help as soon as possible. Here's what you need to know.
Put simply, torsion of the testes is when one of the testicles become twisted around inside the scrotum. The spermatic cord that connects each testicle to the rest of the male reproductive system becomes twisted, which will almost certainly be accompanied by significant pain and discomfort.
How it happens
There are various things that cause testicular torsion, such as playing sport, having sex or being struck. Some men have a predisposition to it, as their testicles are not fixed to the scrotum in the way they should be. While this makes it more likely to happen, you probably won't be aware of this risk until it does.
It can happen to males of all ages, including babies and children, but it's most common in the late teens, and least common after the age of 25.
Testicular torsion might sound like a condition that would be painful but have no serious effects. However, this is far from the truth.
Since the spermatic cord supplies blood to the testes, when it's cut off by twisting, the consequences can be serious. If it's left for too long, the lack of blood can cause the testicle to die, which will impact your fertility and overall health. This is why you should never delay if you think you might have this problem; seek help from a doctor as quickly as you can, as it counts as an emergency.
Even if this doesn't happen, the pain is likely to be severe and can be felt throughout the abdomen, not just in the testicles.
In most cases, testicular torsion will require an operation to correct. By making a small cut in the scrotum, the surgeon can manually untwist the cord and make sure everything is normal again. As long as it's performed quickly, this should save the testicle.
During the operation, the surgeon might stitch both of your testes in place to minimise the chance of you developing another torsion in the future, so you won't have to go through the pain again.
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