Testicular Hernia – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Testicular hernia is often used by stand-up comedians as a punch line for a joke or to create a comic visual (“turn your head and cough”). However, there is nothing funny about hernias – any type of hernia, in testicles or other body areas, is painful and can be debilitating, affecting the quality of life of a sufferer.
Causes of a Hernia in the Testicles
Hernias are really nothing more than strangulations. These can be of blood vessels or muscles, or other organs or body pathways through which fluids must flow unobstructed or through which other metabolic processes must occur.
There are many different types of hernias. Inguinal hernia is the medical term for herniation occurring in the groin area (where the inner thigh meets the body). These are 25 times more common in men, though women can get them. In brief, inguinal hernias are caused when the intestine pokes through weak abdominal walls. Many times this type of hernia generally shows itself by a bulge around the testicles.
Herniated or strangulated intestines can lead to diverticulitis. This is when part of the intestine twists and loops around itself or its blood vessels. This causes a constriction; before long this strangulated part of the intestine will lose blood flow, die off, and bleed out. Sepsis can occur, leading to death.
Testicular Hernia Symptoms
Surprisingly, at least in the earlier stages, a herniated testicle from an inguinal hernia may be asymptomatic. It might be tender or ache slightly. A visual inspection is often enough to diagnose a hernia. Testicle distension or swelling may be an obvious sign something is wrong.
Testicular torsion is more acute and severe in its symptoms. This kind of herniated testicle comes from trauma – the testicle has been unnaturally pulled, and twisting of its various connectors (vas deferens and musculature occurs); a sharp blow to the groin has happened, or in some rare cases a growing testicular tumor may cause torsion.
Testicular hernia symptoms are acute and sudden. Almost immediately there is intense and severe testicle pain (localized to one testicle). Secondary symptoms can be one or all of the following: abdominal pain; nausea and vomiting; scrotal swelling and redness; and fever.
The first obvious step is to see a doctor. Non-invasive treatment for testicular torsion by a medical professional may entail manipulation (manually “untwisting” the strangulation by rotating the testicle through the overlying scrotum). Although this method may work, it is painful and not always successful as direct access to the testicle is restricted.
Almost any testicular hernia ultimately will require invasive surgery. Treating an inguinal hernia by pushing the protruding intestine back into place through the skin is only a temporary cure. Proper surgery allows resetting the intestine into its proper place in the abdominal cavity. Also, a medical mesh may have to be implanted to strengthen the abdominal wall to keep the hernia from recurring. In addition, a hernia belt or truss may also be required to provide stability and support.