Archive for the ‘epididymitis’ Category

When There’s a Problem In the Jewel Sack-Scrotal Pain

September 1, 2012

Every man has taken one in the jewel box that bends him over in excruciating pain and discomfort. Fortunately, most of the pain goes away in a few minutes. However, the scrotum and its contents are very vulnerable to injury and disease. This blog will describe the most common conditions affecting men “down there”.

The scrotum is located outside the rest of the body in order to keep the testicles a few degrees cooler than the rest of the body. This is intended to keep the testicles which contain the sperm factories just the right temperature for sperm production.

Normal Anatomy of the Scrotum

The testicles have two functions: 1) sperm production and 2) testosterone production. Testosterone is the male hormone responsible for developing male characteristics like a deep voice, a beard, and the all-important sex drive.

Evaluation of the painful scrotum
Your doctor will take a careful history and find out how long the pain or swelling has been present. The doctor will want to know if the pain is associated with trauma like a soccer ball or someone’s foot to the “vital parts.” The association of pain and swelling with a fever is a sign of infection and inflammation. A physical exam will be conducted and a light may be used to see if there is excess fluid in the scrotum. This is followed by a urine exam and an ultrasound of the scrotum. This makes use of high frequency sound waves that are sent from a transducer and then reflected back to the transducer to be processed by a computer and then projected onto a computer screen. This test will usually diagnose most of the conditions that cause pain and swelling the scrotum.

Torsion

torsion of the testicle

This occurs when the testicle twists and inside the scrotum and cuts off the blood supply to the testicle. Although torsion of the testicle can occur at any age, it is most common in young boys and young men between the ages of 12 and 18. The chief compliant is the sudden onset severe pain in one testicle. It usually begins after exercise but can occur when the boy is at rest or even awaken the boy from sleep. The physical exam reveals that the testicle is painful to touch and drawn up high in the scrotum. The diagnosis is confirmed by the ultrasound exam. Immediate surgery is required in order to save the testicle. If surgical treatment is delayed beyond 4 hours, it is less likely that the testicle can be saved. Although torsion only occurs in one testicle, the urologist will always repair the opposite testicle so that torsion cannot occur on the opposite side in the future.

Testicular cancer

Testis Tumor


Most men with scrotal swelling worry about testicular cancer, it is actually relatively uncommon with only 7000 new cases diagnosed each year. The disease usually affects young men between the ages of 15-40. The cause is not known but it is much more common in males who have a testicle that has not descended into the scrotum at the time of birth. The man with testicular cancer usually notices a hard lump on the scrotum. The lump is usually painless. The diagnosis is confirmed with a blood test looking for tumor markers, beta HCG and alpha feto-protein, and a scrotal ultrasound. The treatment is to remove the testicle and the cancer. Testicular cancer has a very high cure rate. All men should learn to do a testicle self exam at least once a month. Any suspicious lumps or bumps should be brought to the attention of a physician.

Orchitis

Orchitis is an inflammation of the testicle that is associated with pain and fever and swelling. Mumps is the most common cause. It is not very common thanks to the use of vaccination in young boys. Mumps orchitis is caused by a virus and there is no treatment except bed rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and pain medication.

Epididymitis

This is a inflammatory condition involving the gland and ducts that are behind the testicle and are responsible for allowing sperm to mature until they are ready to enter the semen. It is usually a bacterial infection that starts in the urine or the prostate and then backs up and goes down the vas to cause an infection in the epididymis. The problem may be accompanied by burning on urination and a urethral discharge. Men may also have a fever.

The diagnosis is made with a physical examination, a urine test which may show evidence of infection. The treatment is bed rest, a scrotal support or tight jockey underwear to support the scrotum, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication.

Hydrococele

hydrococele


A hydrococele is a swelling that takes place slowly over time. Usually months or even years. A hydrococele is a collection of fluid around the testicle, which remains entirely normal. A doctor can easily make the diagnosis by simply transilluminating the scrotum with a bright flashlight held up against the scrotum. The diagnosis can be confirmed with an ultrasound examination.

The treatment is usually surgical procedure which is brief operation, done on a one day stay basis and most men can return to all activities two weeks after the operation.

Spermatococele

Spermatococeles are fluid filled cysts in the epididymis. Spermatococeles are usually painless swellings that can also be diagnosed by tranillunination. Surgery is the treatment of choice if the spermatococele causes discomfort because of its size or if it is cosmetically unacceptable.

Varicocele

varicocele


Varicoceles consist of dilated network of veins in the spermatic cord. This problem is common and occurs in 15% of men and occurs most commonly on the left side. It usually causes minimal discomfort but can be associated with infertility. Treatment consists of surgically tying off the abnormal veins or using a coil placed by a radiologist to occlude the abnormal veins.

Bottom Line: A lump or bump down there should get a man’s attention. Most scrotal conditions can be easily diagnosed in the doctor’s office or with a scrotal ultrasound. Most cases are not serious and prompt treatment will nearly always put a man back in action.

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Pain in the Pouch- Scrotal Pain May Be Coming From Somewhere Else

June 9, 2012

By far, most causes of pain in the pouch is from the testicles and the epididymis, the gland behind the testicle where sperm are nurtured and mature. But there are other causes of scrotal pain that must be considered and which have different treatments.

Testicular tumors do not usually cause pain, but it is possible. Since testicular cancer is common in young men (between the ages of 18 and 32) and is often cured if treated early, prompt medical attention to any lump is important. If you feel something down there that is new or is hard, see your doctor right away.

Inguinal hernia—An inguinal hernia is part of the intestines which protrudes through the inguinal canal (passageway connected to the scrotum). Inguinal hernia is suspected if swelling or pain above the scrotum worsens with coughing, sneezing, movement, or lifting. This condition is fairly common, especially in young boys, and it occasionally causes pain in the scrotal area. Premature infant boys have the highest risk for inguinal hernia. This condition usually results from an abdominal wall weakness present at birth, but symptoms may not appear until adulthood.
Hernias do not resolve without treatment and may cause serious complications if not treated. Hernia repair surgery is usually required to treat this condition. Often this surgery can be done through a laparoscope which consists of a several pencil sized openings in the lower abdomen. Most men can go home the same day of the surgery and resume all activities, including heavy lifting in 3-4 weeks after surgery.

Pudendal nerve damage (neuropathy), also called “bicycle seat neuropathy,” may cause numbness or pain. Pudendal nerve damage can result from the pressure of prolonged or excessive bicycle riding (e.g., competitive cycling), especially improper seat position or riding techniques are used. Special bicycle seats have been designed to decrease pressure on the area between the scrotum and the rectum, potentially preventing or resolving this problem. Pudendal neuralgia is the painful type of this nerve damage. Sometimes called “cyclist’s syndrome,” pudendal neuralgia is painful inflammation of the pudendal nerve. The pudendal nerve carries sensations to the genitals, urethra, anus, and perineum (area between the scrotum and anus), so the pain can be felt in any of these areas. Pain can be piercing and is more likely to be noticed while sitting. If untreated, nerve damage can lead to erectile dysfunction or problems with bowel movements or urination, such as involuntary loss of feces or urine (e.g., urinary incontinence).

Pudendal Nerve Damage

Narrow bike seat can cause pudendal nerve injury

Surgery—Temporary testicular pain and swelling can be expected after surgical procedures in the pelvic area, such as hernia repair and vasectomy. Post-surgery pain that lasts longer than expected should be reported to a physician. Chronic or recurring pain may be the result of a surgical complication or an unrelated problem, and may need treatment.
Kidney stones—Stones usually cause abdominal pain, but the pain radiates into the testicular area in some cases. Intense, sudden, and severe pain in the scrotum that cannot be explained by a problem in the scrotum may be caused by kidney stones.

Swelling with mild discomfort—Conditions that cause swelling in the scrotal area also may occasionally result in mild discomfort. These conditions include varicocele, hydrocele, and spermatocele. Many cases are benign (mild and non-threatening), but swelling and discomfort in the scrotal area should be addressed by a doctor. If a hydrocele (an abnormal fluid-filled sac around the testicles) becomes infected, it can lead to epididymitis, which can cause severe pain.
Unrelieved erection—An erection that does not end in ejaculation sometimes can cause a dull ache in the testicles. This minor ache, commonly called “blue balls,” is harmless and usually goes away within a few hours or when ejaculation occurs.

Bottom Line: Scrotal pain is common condition that usually involves the structures in the scrotum. However, there are other conditions that can cause scrotal pain. If your doctor evaluates these other causes of scrotal pain, effective treatment can relieve the discomfort.

When It Really Hurts Down There-Epididymitis

June 3, 2012

When men experience a painful testicle, it can be frightening and a source of not only pain but anxiety as most men associate the testicles with pleasure and reproduction. This article will discuss a common cause of pain in the scrotum and what treatment options are available.
Epididymitis is an inflammation of the coiled tube (epididymis) at the back of the testicle that stores and carries sperm. Pain and swelling are the most common signs and symptoms of epididymitis. Epididymitis is most common in men between the ages of 14 and 35.
Epididymitis is most often caused by a bacterial infection or by a sexually transmitted disease (STD), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. In some cases, the testicle also may become inflamed.
Epididymitis symptoms include: Testicle pain and tenderness, usually on one side, painful urination, painful intercourse or ejaculation, chills and fever, a lump on the testicle, discharge from the penis especially if the cause is from a STD, and discoloration of the semen.

Location of the epididymis

Location of Epididymis On Top and Behind the Testicle

Causes
Epididymitis has a number of causes, including: STDs, particularly gonorrhea and chlamydia, are the most common cause of epididymitis in young, sexually active men. Boys, older men and homosexual men are more likely to have epididymitis caused by a nonsexually transmitted bacterial infection. For men and boys who’ve had urinary tract infections or prostate infections, bacteria may spread from the infected site to the epididymis. Rarely, epididymitis is caused by a fungal infection. Epididymitis may be caused by urine going backward into the epididymis. This is called chemical epididymitis and may occur with heavy lifting or straining.

Diagnosis
Your doctor will do a physical exam, which may reveal enlarged lymph nodes in your groin and an enlarged testicle on the affected side. Your doctor also may do a rectal examination to check for prostate enlargement or tenderness and order blood and urine tests to check for infection and other abnormalities.
Other tests your doctor might order include: STD testing. This involves obtaining a sample of discharge from your urethra. Your doctor may insert a narrow swab into the end of your penis to obtain the sample, which is then tested for the presence of bacteria or other infectious organisms. The results can be used to select the most effective antibiotic for treatment.
Ultrasound imaging is a noninvasive test, which uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of structures inside your body and is used to rule out conditions, such as twisting of the spermatic cord (testicular torsion) or a testicular tumor. Your doctor may use this test if your symptoms began with sudden, severe pain.
A nuclear scan of the testicles is also used to rule out testicular torsion, this test involves injecting trace amounts of radioactive material into your bloodstream. Special cameras then can detect areas in your testicles that receive less blood flow, indicating torsion, or more blood flow, supporting the diagnosis of epididymitis.

Treatment
Epididymitis caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or other infection is treated with antibiotic medications. If you have significant pain, you will probably receive an anti-inflammatory medication. Your sexual partner will also need treatment.
When you’ve finished your medication, it’s a good idea to return to your doctor for a follow-up visit to be sure that the infection has cleared up. If it hasn’t, your doctor may try another antibiotic. If the infection still doesn’t clear, your doctor may do further tests to determine whether your epididymitis is caused by something other than a bacterial infection or an STD.

To ease your symptoms, try these suggestions: Bed rest-depending on the severity of your discomfort, you may want to stay in bed one or two days. Mild relief will occur if you place a folded towel under your scrotum. Wear an athletic supporter or jockey underwear. A supporter provides better support than boxers do for the scrotum. Apply cold packs to your scrotum. Wrap the pack in a thin towel and remove the cold pack every 30 minutes. Don’t have sex until your infection has cleared up. Ask your doctor when you can have sex again.

Bottom Line: Epididymitis is a common cause of scrotal pain. Epididymitis is usually a result of an infection and can be successfully treated with antibiotics. See your doctor whenever you have scrotal pain or you find a lump or bump in your scrotum.