Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.
Testicular cancer most often affects men between the ages of 15 and 39. It usually shows up as a painless lump in the testicle. The good news is that a simple monthly self-exam can help find trouble before it gets serious. When detected early, testicular cancer is almost 100% curable.
Doing Your TSE
Do TSE once a month, during or after a warm shower. Spend about 3-5 minutes feeling for any lump, firm area, or change. If you do find a problem, don’t panic. Call your doctor and make an appointment.
Check the Testicles
Hold your scrotum in the palm of your hand. Roll each testicle gently between the thumbs and fingers of both hands. Feel for changes in each testicle, one at a time.
Check the Epididymis
The epididymis is a raised rim-like structure responsible for sperm storage. It runs along the top and back of each testicle and often hurts when you press on it. Gently feel each epididymis for changes. A spermatocele, which represents a cyst, can present as a painless growth near the testicle. These are noncancerous.
Check the Vas
The vas deferens is a little tube that runs up from the top of each testicle. A normal vas feels like a firm piece of cooked spaghetti. Feel for changes in the vas about each testicle.
If you feel any abnormalities, tell your doctor right away. Along with your own TSE, see your doctor for regular checkups.
Epididymitis is an inflammation of the epididymis. Inflammation is most often caused by bacteria in the urinary tract (a bladder infection) or by bacteria passed between partners during sex. When the inflammation spreads to a testicle, it is called orchitis.
The Testicle and the Epididymis
The 2 testicles are the male sex organs that produce sperm and male hormones. The testicles lie inside the scrotum. Behind each testicle is a coiled tube called the epididymis.
Normal Flow of Sperm and Urine
Sperm travel from the testicle through the epididymis into a tube called the vas deferens. During ejaculation, sperm pass out of the body through the urethra.During urination, urine flows from the bladder out through the urethra.
How Inflammation Starts
The urethra contains bacteria. Bacteria can travel from the urethra into the epididymis. This causes inflammation in the epididymis. The inflammation can also spread to the testicle. Rarely, infections, such as mumps, start elsewhere in the body and spread to the testicle, causing orchitis.
Acute inflammation comes on quickly. Symptoms may include:
Chronic inflammation is most often the late phase of an acute infection. Symptoms may include:
Treatment includes medication to get rid of the bacteria and relieve discomfort. Resting, supporting the scrotum, and using ice packs can help relieve your symptoms. If you are sexually active, any partners need to see a doctor as well, since the infection can sometimes be spread between sex partners.
The inflammation will go away with treatment. But you may have an achy feeling in the testicles for several weeks or months. This does not mean the infection has come back. The testicles just take time to heal. If you feel a lump in a testicle after treatment, however, you need to see your doctor. Once the inflammation is gone, you should feel like being active again.
A varicocele is a swelling in the veins above the testicles. It is similar to having varicose veins in the legs. The swelling occurs when too much blood collects in the veins. A varicocele most often occurs around the left testicle.
Veins in the Scrotum
The scrotum is a sac of skin that covers the testicles-the male sex organs that produce sperm and the male hormones. Blood vessels in the scrotum carry blood to and from the testicles. The vessels that carry blood away from the testicles are called veins.
When There’s a Problem in the Veins
The veins that carry blood from the testicles extend up into the groin. That means the blood has to travel upward a long way. Valves in the veins act like gates to keep the blood from flowing back toward the testicles. In some men, these valves don’t close fully. Or the muscles in the walls of the veins may be weak. Then some blood flows back into the scrotum and collects in the veins above the testicles. This makes the veins enlarge.
What Are the Symptoms?
A varicocele often causes no symptoms at all. Or it may cause an achy or heavy feeling in the scrotum. The pain may be worse later in the day or after standing for a long time. You may also see swollen veins just under the skin in the scrotum.
A Varicocele Can Lower Sperm Count
When blood collects in the veins above the testicles, changes occur that can reduce the number and the quality of the sperm. In many cases, sperm count improves after treatment.
In most cases, a varicocele is not serious. Your doctor may wait and watch the problem for a while. If needed, surgery or another procedure to close off the enlarged veins can be done. This may be suggested if you have pain, if the veins become unsightly, or if you and your partner are having trouble conceiving a baby.
Surgery: Open Varicocelectomy
Your doctor may recommend surgery to tie off the enlarged veins around the testicles.
Surgery: Laparoscopic Varicocelectomy
Instead of open surgery, laparoscopic surgery may be recommended. This is surgery done through small incisions with an instrument called a laparoscope (a thin, telescope-like device).
In place of surgery, your doctor might recommend sealing off the enlarged veins using percutaneous occlusion. A radiologic procedure called a venogram is used to create a map of the veins. A tube is then placed in the large vein in the groin. Materials are injected through this tube into the enlarged veins to block them off.
After Your Varicocele Procedure
Risks of Varicocele Repair
Risks and possible complications of these procedures include:
Call Your Doctor if You Have:
Urethritis occurs when the urethra is inflamed (red and swollen). This is the tube that runs from the bladder through the penis. The urethra can become swollen and cause burning pain when you urinate. You may also have pain with sex and masturbation. Read on to learn more about urethritis and how it can be treated.
What Causes Urethritis?
Urethritis can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Such an infection can lead to conditions such as a urinary tract infection (UTI) or sexually transmitted disease (STD). Urethritis can also be caused by injury or sensitivity or allergy to chemicals in lotions and other products. An inflamed urethra can cause pain during urination.
How Is Urethritis Diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will examine you and ask about your symptoms and health history. You may also have one or more of the following tests:
How Is Urethritis Treated?
Treatment depends on the cause of urethritis. If it’s due to a bacterial infection, antibiotics (medications that fight infection) will be given. Your healthcare provider can tell you more about your treatment options. In the meantime, your symptoms can be treated. To relieve pain and swelling, anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, may be given. Untreated, symptoms may get worse. Also, scar tissue can form in the urethra, causing it to narrow.
Call the healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:
When it comes to sex, it’s important to take care and be safe. Any sexual contact with the penis, vagina, anus, or mouth can spread an STD. The only sure way to prevent STDs is abstinence (not having sex). But there are ways to make sex safer. Use a latex condom each time you have sex. And talk to your partner about STDs before you have sex.