Testicular atrophy occurs when men's testicles gradually become smaller. Read more about the testicular atrophy symptoms, causes, diagnosis & treatment options here.
Do you feel at times that the size of your testicles has increased or decreased? Is this normal? Or it is a symptom of any underlying condition that needs immediate medical treatment? Read the below article to find your answers.
Testicles are a very important part of the male reproductive system. Any abnormality in them can lead to several health issues including male infertility problems. Round, firm, and full-looking testes are considered healthy. This happens when the component of the testicles, that is, the germ cells and Leydig cells are produced in equal proportions inside the testicle. Any imbalance in their quantity can impact the levels of testicular fluids, thus making them shrink.
In testicular atrophy, the testicles in the scrotum shrink or reduce in size. This can happen due to several causes and should be treated immediately to prevent permanent damage. Testicular atrophy is different from the regular expansion or contraction of the scrotum muscles.
The latter case (the change in the size of the scrotum) is the body’s natural response to fluctuation in the environmental temperature. When the temperature outside drops, the scrotum shrinks and when the temperature rises, the scrotum relaxes or expands. Here, there is no change in the size of the testicles.
Testicular atrophy is a treatable health condition. But it can cause severe and permanent damage to the reproductive organs if not treated on time. Though testicular atrophy is not reversive otherwise, very early diagnosis and treatment can help to cure this condition completely. Hence, it is very important to identify the early sign of testicular atrophy correctly and seek medical attention.
Common symptoms of testicular atrophy include:
- Pain in the testicles
- The size of the testicles gets smaller
- Reduced sexual desire
- Male infertility problems
- Losing body muscles
- Soft testicles
- Poor growth/ complete lack of pubic or facial hair
Symptoms of testicular atrophy can also be seen in boys who have not crossed puberty. Some of the symptoms are:
- showing no signs of male sexual characteristics like facial or pubic hair, an increase in the size of the penis, etc
Shrinkage in the size of the testicles can happen due to several reasons. Some of the causes of testicular atrophy are discussed below:
While orchitis may not be a direct cause, it can eventually lead to testicular atrophy in many people. Due to orchitis, the testicles experience fullness and swelling that makes them appear bigger for a while. After this, they can shrink drastically in size.
With age, the level of testosterone in the male body also decreases, a phase which is called andropause (like menopause in women). This change in the hormones can be one of the causes leading to testicular atrophy.
In varicoceles, the vein in the testicles swells up/enlarges. This can impact the tubes in the testicles that produce sperm and make them smaller in size. Generally, the left testicle is affected more.
This is one of the very severe causes of irreversible testicular atrophy. During testicular torsion, undue pressure is exerted on the spermatic cord by the testicles. This stops the regular blood flow to the scrotum and can make them painfully enlarged. In a short period, this can cause severe testicular atrophy.
Certain medical regimens such as Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) can cause hormonal imbalance that in turn shrinks the size of the testicles. TRT stops the secretion of GnRH (Gonadotropin-releasing hormone) in the body, because of which there is no production of LH (luteinizing hormone) by the pituitary gland. Ultimately, without LH, the body is unable to produce testosterone which makes the testicles become smaller. Consuming estrogen supplement medicines or using any type of anabolic steroid can also cause the same chain reaction as discussed above.
Some other causes of testicular atrophy in men are excessive consumption of alcohol, exposure to harmful toxins or chemicals, injury/accidents, illness like mumps virus, STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases), any underlying medical conditions, etc.
If you go to a doctor to check for testicular atrophy, there is a high chance that your diagnosis will start with the analysis of your medical history and asking questions about your everyday diet, lifestyle, sexual habits, etc.
After this, the doctor may proceed by doing a physical examination of the testicles to study their structure, size, firmness, texture, etc. If it is still difficult to reach a clear conclusion, then further investigation through a testicular ultrasound procedure, testosterone level test, or a detailed blood test, may be suggested.
The treatment for testicular atrophy can vary depending on the cause of the problem. A few commonly suggested solutions include:
Lifestyle Changes – For minor causes of testicular atrophy, lifestyle changes like reducing smoking, alcohol consumption, substance use, etc. may be suggested.
Medications – For causes like bacterial infection, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Hormone Therapy – Hormone therapy can be highly useful to restore balance in hormones, especially with low production of testosterone.
Surgery – In extreme cases like testicular torsion, doctors may suggest patients undergo surgery to prevent permanent damage.
There is no clear evidence that home remedies will work for testicular atrophy. Hence, consult a doctor to get the correct medical treatment.
It is not advisable to leave testicular atrophy untreated because your condition can worsen with time, delay your recovery time, and may even cause irreversible male infertility, etc.
Testicular atrophy in men may affect both their testicles or just one of them.
Poor sperm count, low testosterone level in the body, etc. are some of the male infertility problems due to testicular atrophy.
It is not safe to postpone the treatment of testicular atrophy as the condition can be irreversible after a certain time. It can also be a cause of delay in achieving your parenthood dream.
With top fertility experts at Indira IVF, several male fertility problems can be treated effectively at affordable costs. For more information, call us at 18003092323.
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