Testicular Torsion

Definition - What does Testicular Torsion mean?

Testicular torsion is a painful and dangerous condition in which blood flow is cut off to one testicle. It occurs when the testicle rotates in a way that twists the spermatic cord which is responsible for supplying blood to the testicle. Pain and swelling of one or both testicles is the most common symptom. If not treated promptly, testicular torsion may result in loss of a testicle.

FertilitySmarts explains Testicular Torsion

Each testicle is connected to the body via the spermatic cord. This cord gets its name because it contains the vas deferens that carry sperm from the testes to the penis, as well as the testicle's blood supply. Under normal circumstances, twisting of the spermatic cord is prevented by a network of connective tissue that holds the testicles firmly in place inside the scrotum. In some men, however, this connective tissue is loose, increasing the risk of torsion. It may also be weakened by trauma.

When the spermatic cord is twisted in a way that cuts off blood flow, tissue in the testicle begins to die. Typically only one testicle is affected by testicular torsion. Symptoms may appear to occur only in one testicle or may appear to apply to both.

Symptoms of testicular torsion include:

  • Pain in one or both testes
  • Swelling in one or both testes
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in semen
  • Scrotal lumps
  • Fever

Pain or swelling in the testes is generally considered an emergency condition due to the risk of testicle loss if testicular torsion is not treated promptly.

Testicular torsion is a rare condition, affecting about 1 in 4000 males. It is most common in boys from 12-16 years of age but can happen at any age. Testicular torsion occurs most commonly following vigorous activity, injury to the groin area, or sleep.

If a testicle is lost due to testicular torsion, the remaining testicle is generally able to compensate for testosterone production such that no notable change in sexual performance is noted. However, in some cases, fertility may be somewhat reduced due to decreased total sperm count.

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