Testicular Torsion: A Medical Emergency

25 January 2019, Tim Burton

Testicular torsion occurs in 1 in 4,000 men under the age of 25 each year. It’s relatively uncommon, but when it happens it is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment. If it is not treated soon enough, the testicle will need to be removed. It’s important that all men are aware of testicular torsion, so here’s what you need to know.

What is testicular torsion?

Testicular torsion occurs when the testicles rotate and become twisted. If this happens, it will cause swelling and cut off the blood supply to the testicle.

Sadly, if the torsion continues for more than 4-8 hours and the testicle undergoes irreversible damage, it must be removed.

The causes

It’s most commonly seen with new-borns and boys aged between 12 and 18, but it can also happen to any man of any age.

You are more likely to encounter testicular torsion if you have what is called bell clapper deformity. If you have bell clapper deformity it means that your testicles are not attached to the scrotum in the same way as normal testicles, but instead are attached higher up and are free to rotate. It is possible to have bell clapper deformity without realising it.

However, you might also experience testicular torsion after an injury to the scrotum, after strenuous exercise, or even whilst asleep.

There is often no obvious cause, which is why it’s so important that all men know the signs and symptoms of testicular torsion

The symptoms

If you have a sudden and unexplained pain in your testicle or scrotum, then call your doctor or get to hospital straight away. You might find that the pain will get better or worse occasionally, but it will not go away entirely.

Other, slightly less common, symptoms include swelling of the scrotum, one testicle appearing higher than the other, pain in your belly, and nausea and vomiting.

The most important thing is not to take a risk: if you experience these symptoms, go to the hospital right away.


When you see a doctor they will assess you to determine whether or not you have testicular torsion. 

If the doctor believes you have testicular torsion, you will require emergency surgery to explore the scrotum. If the problem is fixable, it will happen under general anaesthetic. However, if the problem has not received treatment fast enough, the testicle will need to be removed. 


It is important that all men are aware of testicular torsion, so please share this message far and wide.

You can find about more about testicular torsion on our Urology Health pages.


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