So the lovely Biki asked me (as the “medical specialist” in this corner of the blogosphere) to do a post on the following topic, as well as suggest the rather apt title. I will touch upon 2 topics today: testicular torsion and testicular cancer.
What is testicular torsion?
Testicular torsion is when the spermatic cord (that contains the artery and vein to the testicles) twists on itself and cuts off blood supply to a testicle. It’s very painful and must be ruled out whenever there’s pain in the scrotum.
How does it happen?
Normally, the testicles are “anchored” to the bottom of the scrotum by the ligament made by the gubernaculum (such a fun word to say, say it with me: gubernaculum). During fetal development, the gubernaculum pulls the testicles from inside the abdomen down into the scrotum (though no one knows exactly how it does this). If the ligament made by the gubernaculum weakens/breaks, the testicle “floats” more freely in the scrotum, allowing it to more easily twist around itself. The most common causes of testicular torsion are trauma to the testicles or strenuous physical activity.
How is it diagnosed?
There are a lot of things that can cause pain in the scrotum, such as inflammation or infection. A good patient history and physical exam are usually sufficient to diagnose testicular torsion. Sometimes an ultrasound may be used, if available.
Can it be dangerous?
Aside from extreme pain that can cause nausea and dizziness, testicular torsion can indeed be dangerous. Because the blood supply to the testicle is cut off by the twisting, the testicle is in danger of dying and become gangrenous. Prompt treatment within hours may be necessary to save the testicle . . . otherwise amputation of the testicle to prevent gangrene infection may be needed.
How is it treated?
Testicular torsion is often treated surgically. Sometimes it may be manually untwisted or it may even untwist on its own. Such treatment should be attempted by a trained doctor only.
Take home message:
If you’re experiencing extreme pain in your testicles, see the doctor ASAP. No excuses.
What is testicular cancer?
That’s rather self-explanatory, lol. It’s actually really freaky and I won’t go into the weird details of testicular cancer. o_O
Who gets testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer is odd in that it’s not an “old person’s disease” like most cancers. It’s the most common cancer of men between the ages of 15 and 34, occurring most often in men between the ages of 20 and 39. Testicular cancer accounts for about 1% of all male cancers in the US. In 2009, 8400 new cases of testicular cancer were diagnosed in the US and there were 380 deaths from it. Fortunately, testicular cancer has over a 95% cure rate if detected early.
How is it diagnosed? What’re the symptoms?
Taken from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the following are common symptoms of testicular cancer:
- painless lump/swelling in a testicle
- pain/discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
- enlargement of a testicle or changes to how it feels
- dull ache in the abdomen, back, or groin
- sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
How is testicular cancer treated?
The same as any other cancer, more or less: surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy. Fortunately, treatment for testicular cancer tends to be less aggressive than for many other cancers.
What about prevention?
As with many cancers, prevention = early detection. To detect testicular cancer early, guys should do monthly testicular self-exams. It’s very easy to do. During/immediately after a shower, when the scrotum is relaxed, gently hold one testicle and feel for lumps or anything different (such as tenderness, increased firmness, or buildup of fluid). Then repeat with the other testicle. Compare the two testicles for any changes in size. Since many will forget to do this (I’m just as guilty), it may be a better idea to pseudo-incorporate this into masturbation sessions once in a while. Just a thought. o_O
For more info, visit the NCI site at: http://www.cancer.gov/
Now for something amusing/interesting. Guys have a special reflex called the “cremaster reflex.” There’s a muscle in the spermatic cord called the cremaster muscle, that pulls the testicles closer to the body. The nerve that innervates the cremaster muscle (the genito-femoral nerve) splits in the abdomen and also goes to the inner thigh. So if you stroke your inner thigh, you’ll cause your testicles to pull towards your body. Nifty, eh?