By Medicover Hospitals / 03 Mar 2021
The male reproductive organs are known as the testes. Men have two testicles of similar size contained inside the scrotum. The scrotum helps regulate the temperature around the testicles by relaxing in response to heat and shrinking in the cold. This can sometimes make your testicles larger or smaller than normal. However, sometimes the testicles themselves can shrink. This is known as testicular atrophy.
- What is a Testicular Atrophy?
- Home Remedies
What is a Testicular Atrophy?
Testicular atrophy refers to the narrowing of your testicles, which are the two male reproductive glands in the scrotum. The major function of the scrotum is to regulate the temperature around the testicles, which it does by contracting in response to cold temperatures and relaxing in response to warmer temperatures. This can make your testicles look larger or smaller than usual.
However, testicular atrophy refers to the narrowing of your actual testicles, not your scrotum. This can be because of several factors, including an injury, an underlying condition, or exposure to certain chemicals.
The testes are mainly made up of two types of cells responsible for their function: germ cells and Leydig cells. The germ cells handle the production of sperm and the Leydig cells manage the production of testosterone, the male sex hormone. Normal development of the testis produces these two types of cells in equal proportions and makes the testes round, firm, and full. A decrease in the levels of one or both cell types can lead to changes in testicular fluid levels, resulting in extremely shrunken testes. Here are some causes of testicular atrophy:
- Hormonal imbalance: The most common cause of testicular atrophy. Imbalances due to drug side effects, radiation exposure, or even chronic steroid use can all be to blame. When hormonal imbalances occur, the body perceives that it has more than enough sex hormones circulating in the body, resulting in less production in the testes, causing them to shrink. Stopping these offending drugs can often reverse this situation, depending on the severity.
- Illness: Medical conditions such as mumps virus and HIV can lead to testicular atrophy. The condition can be reversed with treatment for the disease, but it depends on the severity of the atrophy.
- Alcoholism: Chronic alcohol consumption leads to cases of cirrhosis of the liver, which can negatively affect the testes and lead to atrophy.
- Age: Testicular atrophy can be a consequence of natural aging and is more commonly seen in men who are past reproductive age.
A doctor will normally begin to diagnose testicular atrophy by asking questions about the individual's lifestyle and medical history. They will also ask about any medicine a person is taking.
A doctor will also likely do a physical examination of the testicles, looking for the following qualities:
Finally, a doctor may order additional tests to help determine what is causing testicular atrophy. Possible tests include:
- an ultrasound of the testicles to look for abnormalities and blood flow
- blood tests to look for signs of infection
- swabs or urine tests to test for sexually transmitted infections
- hormonal level tests
Treatment largely depends on the underlying cause of testicular atrophy. Early diagnosis and treatment can even help reverse the narrowing. Possible treatments include:
- In case of bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed
- Lifestyle changes are recommended
- Hormone therapy is a treatment option in case of imbalance or low production of testosterone
- Testicular torsion may require surgery
Some people claim that there are natural treatments for testicular atrophy. There is no clinical evidence to suggest that natural remedies can correct testicular atrophy or its underlying causes.
Frequently Asked Questions:
As you get older, testosterone production tends to drop as your testicles start to get smaller. This is known as testicular atrophy. The change is often gradual and may not be particularly noticeable. When this happens naturally, there is no threat to health.
The use of steroids disrupts the normal production of hormones in the body. Changes that can be reversed include decreased sperm production, decreased testicular function (hypogonadism) which leads to low testosterone levels and testicular shrinkage (testicular atrophy).
Severe Testicular Atrophy - https://www.auajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1016/j.juro.2013.07.065
Testicular Atrophy - https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/2/e1602899.abstract
Testicular Atrophy - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022534717583871