Pain in your balls is no laughing matter, nor is the discovery of a mysterious lump. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a serious problem. We asked Dr Ranj Singh when you should and shouldn’t worry about your testicles.
My balls hurt and I don’t know what’s wrong. What should I do?
Well, fellas, here at The Mix we are not doctors. Therefore, if you post below asking us what you should do about your painful balls, we won’t be able to help. We’ll always just suggest you go to the doctor.
If you’re feeling embarrassed about seeing the doctor, and so are instead writhing around at home in agony, this article should help you get over your nerves. Good luck!
I’ve been kicked in the balls
No matter whether the ‘kicker’ was wearing football boots, doc martens, converse or slippers – being kicked in the ‘nads f**@king hurts. But believe it or not, your precious cojones can take it.
“Luckily, they’re quite resilient to daily ‘wear and tear’, which includes the odd bash,” says Dr Ranj Singh. “However, if you do get whacked in the balls and they’re persistently painful, swell up or bruise, then you should definitely go and get checked out by your GP.”
One ball hangs lower than the other
You’re not a freak, this is normal. “How low your testicles hang depends on a number of factors – particularly how warm they are,” says Dr Ranj. “It’s perfectly normal for one to hang slightly lower than the other one due to differences in the internal structure between left and right side,” he says.
However, if one testicle is significantly smaller or larger than the other this could signify a problem. “This could be as simple as something called a hydrocoele (see below) which makes it look and feel bigger, or may be something more sinister like a testicular tumour (usually felt as a lump). That’s why regular checking (best after a bath/shower) is important – if you notice a difference in size then you should get it checked to be safe,” says Dr Ranj.
My balls ache
Balls can ache for lots of reasons, and if it settles down quite quickly it’s usually nothing to worry about. However, if it’s a persistent ache, it might be a sign of something else, such as:
Varicocoele: (varicose veins). One in 10 men are thought to be saddled with big veiny balls. The distended veins you can see on the surface are caused by problems with the valve mechanism responsible for controlling blood flow. Surgery may be necessary if it’s painful or linked to fertility problems.
Hydrocoele: Your testicle fills up with fluid, sometimes due to infection. In some cases, it may also be a sign of testicular tumour, so always get it checked by your GP. Antibiotics usually cures it, or it may need to be drained by the GP.
Scrotal hernia: Where a bit of the bowel from the abdomen hangs down into the ball sack. Common in older men, but occasionally might turn up in younger men too. An operation will be needed to restore order.
Spermatocoele: A cyst-like lump that can be felt on the epididymis (the ribbed ‘zipper’ you can feel running up the back of your nads). “This is uncommon in young people and, if present, would need an operation to fix it,” says Dr Ranj.
I’m in so much pain in my bollocks I can’t speak
“If you get severe pain that comes on quickly, or your testicle is really sore to touch, then it’s important to see your GP ASAP,” says Dr Ranj. “This is because it may be due to the testicle twisting (torsion) and this needs to be sorted out urgently (within 6 hours) – otherwise it could lead to death of the testicle because its blood supply gets cut off.”
An emergency operation may be necessary to save the testicle. Surgeons may go on to sew surviving balls to the scrotal wall, to prevent disaster striking again.
It often happens due to a knock or a kick, but also for no apparent reason and even during sleep. Symptoms include major pain, nausea and fainting – you’d know you were in trouble.
Help, my balls are on fire
If your balls feel like they’re about to burst into flames (known as epididymitis) it could be down to a urinary tract infection or and STI, such as gonorrhoea. Other symptoms include fever, groin tenderness and penis discharge.
If it is an infection you’ll need to see your GP for antibiotics. Bed rest and careful application of towel-wrapped ice packs can also ease the pain.
Why do my balls hurt after sex?
This is down to a muscle spasm that occurs after a vigorous or prolonged sesh (well done you!). A warm bath should help ease the muscles.
Have I got testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer among men aged 15-34, but also the most easily treatable if caught quickly. “This is why it’s important to check your balls for any lumps and bumps regularly – and get checked if you find anything there!” says Dr Ranj.
Early signs include a swelling or lump, fatigue and a general feeling of being unwell. You may also experience a dull ache in the scrotal area, stomach or back, but it’s important to not automatically assume you have cancer – especially if you haven’t detected a lump.
“Lots of people get worried that ball-ache might be a sign of cancer. In reality, testicular cancer usually doesn’t cause pain and presents with a painless lump,” says Dr Ranj.
Photo of squeezed red ball by Shutterstock
Updated on 08-Dec-2015
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