Let’s Talk About Testes
Checking your chap is all well and good but what about those two laddies behind him? That’s right. You need to scrutinise your scrotum too. The causes of lumps and bumps in balls are many and varied but they are all worthy of your attention. Firstly though, don’t panic. If you are checking your balls – which you should be doing fairly regularly, you know – and you find a lump, the odds are high that it is nothing to worry about. However, it is still recommended that you get it checked out by your GP.
SO, WHAT ARE THE LIKELY CAUSES OF LUMPS IN THE SCROTUM?
Let’s get the big scary one out of the way first: testicular cancer. Fortunately, testicular cancer only accounts for 1% of all cancers in men, according to the NHS. However, as it is a form of cancer that is more common in younger men it is the most common form of cancer in men aged between 15 and 49. It is also five times more common in white men than black men but no one really knows why. The good news about testicular cancer (not a sentence you expect to read often) is that it is very responsive to chemotherapy and the vast majority of sufferers make a full recovery. Symptoms to look out for, other than lumpy balls, are aching in the testicle and a feeling of heaviness. If you experience these symptoms or find a suspicious lump then don’t keep it quiet – get it checked out.
OTHER LESSER KNOWN (AND LESS FRIGHTENING) CAUSES OF BUMPY BALLS
These charming chaps are essentially varicose veins of the scrotum. They sound horrible but are essentially harmless. More commonly found in older men, they can cause slight discomfort and occur when the valves that stop blood from flowing the wrong way down the veins in the scrotum stop working properly or some kind of blockage appears in a blood vessel. If you find a varicocele in your scrotum the best advice is just to leave it alone really. There are treatment options available though if they are really bothering you.
‘Fluid in the scrotum’ is how these are described and they are very common in men over 40. They are nothing to worry about and only cause any sort of problem if they get very large. If they do become problematically big then they can be removed surgically or drained using a needle. Don’t worry; they use plenty of anaesthetic when they do either of these things.
Again, these sound pretty nasty but are actually completely harmless. They typically appear in men around 40 and are basically a lump of fluid in the tubes. If they reach a size where they do cause a problem then they can be removed by a talented urological surgeon.
Now, this is nasty, really nasty. The symptoms for this condition are not subtle so there is no chance that you won’t know you’ve got it. The pain is sudden and severe and accompanied by an acute swelling of the testicle. Testicular torsion occurs commonly during sports or physical activity and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting but that’s mostly because the pain is so bad. It is most common in boys aged between 7 and 14 and occurs more often in the left testicle than the right. What actually happens in these cases, is the testicle becomes twisted inside the scrotum. See, I did say it was nasty. This needs treatment immediately as it can cause the circulation to the testicle to be cut off and if the pain appears to ease off on its own it may be due to necrosis (the testicle dying through lack of blood). So, call an ambulance straight away if you have any reason to think that someone is suffering from testicle torsion. This condition can be treated with manual manipulation (yep, twisting the testicle back into position) or surgery or sometimes both.
The bottom line is – most ball bumps are harmless but they are all worth getting checked out.