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What It’s Like to Twist Your Testicle So Badly It Has to Be Removed

‘For a moment, I finally felt some relief. But in hindsight, I realize that relief only came because my testicle had died.’

It was a hot, sunny Saturday like any other in Oklahoma when 24-year-old Tom suddenly began experiencing extreme discomfort in and around his groin. “It felt like I’d violently pulled my left groin,” he tells me. “But I wasn’t working out, I was just sitting in my truck, driving home from the grocery store.” 

The pain in Tom’s testicles was so excruciating that he decided to head straight to urgent care, where a nurse practitioner quickly diagnosed him with a groin strain and sent him home with a prescription for pain medication. In truth, however, one of Tom’s testicles had rotated enough to twist the spermatic cord and cut off blood flow to his scrotum. This is called testicular torsion, and by all accounts, it’s agonizing. 

Men that have had testicular torsion: how did you twist your nuts? from AskReddit

Symptoms of testicular torsion range from sudden, severe pain in the scrotum to swelling of the scrotum, abdominal pain, fever, dizziness and even vomiting,” explains Daniel Boyer, a physician in Iowa. “Given the torsion of the spermatic cord structures and subsequent loss of blood supply to the ipsilateral testicle, it usually requires emergency surgery.” According to the Cleveland Clinic, “About one in 4,000 males under the age of 25,” will experience testicular torsion, though it’s “most common in adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18.”

But again, Tom wasn’t immediately ushered into the operating room. Instead, he went home, where his pain grew so intense that his own screams were the very thing that jolted him awake when he was attempting to get some rest. “It got worse and worse, but I just assumed it was one of those situations where it had to get worse before it got better, so I gritted it out,” he tells me. “The next day, I actually felt some relief. So for a moment, I figured I was good. In hindsight, though, I now realize that relief only came because my testicle had died.” 

Despite feeling slightly better, Tom still went to see his primary care physician on that Monday, “just to make sure all was well.” But his doctor “seemed satisfied with the nurse practitioner’s diagnosis” and also sent him back home. As the week progressed, however, Tom’s dead testicle lurched back to life. “It was now Wednesday night, and I was taking a bath. I looked down and noticed the affected testicle had swollen to about twice the size it was supposed to be,” he says. “I rushed back to my doctor, who called in a urologist to do an ultrasound.” 

It was the ultrasound that confirmed that Tom had suffered testicular torsion. “He said I had six hours to fix it from the onset, and I’d gone past that deadline by almost four days,” Tom recalls. “Then he told me not to drink or eat anything, because I was going into surgery as soon as possible.” 

Tom’s doctor offered that he was going to try to save his testicle, but Tom knew it was too late. “I guess he was trying to give me hope,” he tells me. “Ultimately, though, I knew they were going to have to take it out.”

The good news was, he wasn’t that much worse for the wear afterward. In fact, in the following days, Tom was pleasantly surprised to find that everything had returned to form. “Having an erection two days or so after my surgery was the happiest moment of my life,” he says. “My sex drive has stayed the same pre- and post-surgery, and though I haven’t been with anyone since the surgery, masturbation still feels the same.” 

Mentally, however, recovery has been slower going. If anything, Tom has been surprised at the emotional trauma the loss of his testicle has caused him. “More than any of the physical pain, the biggest part for me has been feeling incomplete,” he says. “Not to mention the anxiety at the slightest discomfort, hoping you haven’t popped the surviving one — because who knew you could lose a testicle without any contact force injury happening?”