Men’s Health A-Z

Testicular Torsion

Testicular Torsion

What is testicular torsion?

Testicular torsion occurs when the spermatic cord (the bundle of cords that connects to and holds the testicles) twists, cutting off blood supply to the testicles. This tends to happen when a testicle is twisted.

If blood supply is not returned to the testicle quickly the testicle can be permanently damaged and potentially lost.

How common is testicular torsion?

Testicular torsion is rare, occurring in around 1 in 4,000 males under the age of 25 with the majority of cases between the ages of 12 to 18. It can however occur in newborns and older men.

What causes testicular torsion?

In most males a testicle cannot twist due to strong surrounding tissue in the scrotum (which sits under the penis and houses the testicles) that keeps the testicles secure.

Some men however, lack strong surrounding tissue and this allows the testicles to move more freely in the scrotum. With more movement comes a greater chance that the testicles will twist causing testicular torsion.

Testicular torsion can happen at any time—while active or inactive (even while sleeping!). Sports or physical exercise can cause testicular torsion to occur if the testicles are not properly supported and protected.

What are the symptoms of testicular torsion?

The single, most noticeable symptom of testicular torsion is sudden, extreme pain in one of the testicles. In addition to the pain there is often nausea and vomiting.

Testicular torsion typically happens on only one side and in the majority of cases it’s the left side.

It is very important to note that testicular torsion is a medical emergency. If you have any of these symptoms visit the hospital immediately to prevent damage or loss of your testicle.

How is testicular torsion diagnosed?

A doctor will check the testicles to see if testicular torsion can be detected (this of course happens when a male has sudden, extreme pain and visits the hospital). If testicular torsion is detected you will undergo treatment right away to save to testicle.

How is testicular torsion treated?

Testicular torsion requires surgery in all cases. The doctor may be able to initially rotate the testicle to start blood flowing back into the testicle but will need to perform surgery to properly untwist the testicle and prevent further torsions from happening.

If it has been more than 12 hours it is likely the testicle will need to be removed.