The testes, also called as testicles, are part of the male reproductive system that produces sperm and the hormone testosterone. The testes are two oval shaped glands situated in the scrotum, a loose sac of skin that hangs down behind the penis. Problems with the testes can result in serious complications such as hormonal imbalances, sexual dysfunction and infertility.
Some conditions that can affect the testicles include:
Testicular trauma: Because the testes are located within the scrotum, there are no muscles and bones to protect them. This location makes the testes susceptible to injury. Testes can easily get struck, hit, kicked or crushed, often during contact sports. Trauma to the testes can cause severe pain, bruising, swelling, and even leakage of blood into the scrotum (testicular rupture). For protecting the testicles against injury, males should always wear athletic cups during sports.
Testicular torsion: This is a condition in which the spermatic cord that provides blood flow to the scrotum is twisted. As a result, the blood supply to the testicle is reduced causing sudden and severe pain, swelling, tenderness and enlargement of the affected testicle. It may occur as a result of injury to the testicles or from strenuous activity. Testicular torsion is considered as a medical emergency that usually requires immediate surgery to restore the flow of blood.
Epididymitis: This condition is an inflammation of the epididymis, the coiled tube at the back of each testicle that stores and carries sperm. . Epididymitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection or by a sexually transmitted disease such as chlamydia. The symptoms of epididymitis are scrotal pain, swelling, collection of pus and fever.
Hypogonadism: It is the inability of the testicles to produce enough testosterone, the hormone that is responsible for the development and maintenance of masculine physical characteristics. Primary hypogonadism occurs from a problem in the testicles, whereas secondary hypogonadism may occur from a problem with the pituitary gland in the brain that signals the testicles to produce testosterone.
Testicular cancer: This condition involves an abnormal, uncontrolled growth of the cells within the testicles. The symptoms of testicular cancer include pain, swelling or lumps in testicles or groin area, and a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum. The exact cause of testicular cancer is not known. However, certain factors such as undescended testicles, age and race, and family history may increase your risk of developing the condition.
Undescended testicle (cryptochordidism): It is a condition in which the testicles fail to descend from the abdomen, into the scrotum shortly before birth. It is one of the major risk factors for testicular cancer.
Hydrocele: This is a condition where fluid accumulates around one or both testicles. Hydroceles are usually benign, but can enlarge enough to cause symptoms such as pain or pressure. In most cases, the exact cause of hydrocele is not known, but may develop as a result of inflammation or injury within the scrotum.
Varicocele: It is an enlargement of the veins (blood vessels) along the spermatic cord above the testicle. It is usually harmless, but may occasionally affect fertility or cause mild to moderate pain.