Testicular torsion

Testicular torsion occurs when a testicle rotates, twisting the spermatic cord that brings blood to the scrotum. The reduced blood flow causes sudden and often severe pain and swelling. Testicular torsion is most common between ages 12 and 16, but it can occur at any age, even before birth.

Testicular torsion usually requires emergency surgery. If treated within a few hours, the testicle can usually be saved. But waiting longer can cause permanent damage and may affect the ability to father children. When blood flow has been cut off for too long, a testicle may become so badly damaged it has to be removed.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Signs and symptoms of testicular torsion include:

  • Sudden or severe pain in the scrotum — the loose bag of skin under your penis that contains the testicles
  • Swelling of the scrotum
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A testicle that's positioned higher than normal or at an unusual angle

When to see a doctor

Seek emergency care for sudden or severe testicle pain. Prompt treatment can prevent severe damage or loss of your testicle if the cause of the pain is testicular torsion.

You also need to seek prompt medical help if you've had sudden testicle pain that goes away without treatment. This can occur when a testicle twists and then untwists on its own (intermittent torsion and detorsion). Even though the testicle untwisted on its own, you still need to see a doctor because surgery is frequently needed to prevent the problem from happening again.

© 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of use