I have had a problem with one of my testicles. It gets swollen and gives me some discomfort, and then the swelling seems to subside for a while. This has been going on for about two weeks. Any suggestions?
There are quite a few problems that can cause a testicle to swell, and that may or may not cause pain, but not many of them are going to subside and then return as yours has been doing. Since you used the word “discomfort” I assume you are not having a really strong pain, even when you touch or handle the testicle.
Testicles can become infected, have tumors, become twisted, or appear enlarged by something else getting bigger around or above them. The most common infection of the testicles themselves is mumps, and you would probably be aware of it if you had it.
Epididymitis, an infection of the epididymis which wraps around the testicle, is common and caused usually by gonorrhea or a chlamydial infection. It is generally quite painful, and I have not known it to subside and recur as you describe.
Cancer of the testicle is fairly common, but is rarely painful early on, and is usually first felt as a small firm lump in the otherwise kind of soft testicular tissue. All males should check their testicles for lumps on a regular basis, starting around puberty since this is one of the few cancers that affects young men.
An inguinal hernia can allow a loop of intestine to slide down into the scrotum, and it can slide back up again, but the testicle itself does not enlarge, and the loop of intestine coming all the way down over your pubic bone into the scrotum is usually pretty obvious.
A number of benign conditions can cause lumps above or behind the testicle. They are usually not painful, or only slightly so. These include a cyst filled with sperm, a spermatocele, a bunch of tangled veins, called a varicocele, and a fluid filled sac called a hydrocele. A hydrocele might come and go, but the others are more likely to remain stable in size once formed.
Finally, the testicle can get twisted on its stalk, a condition called a torsion. When a complete torsion occurs, it stops the blood flow into the testicle. The pain is intense, and the testicle will die from lack of blood if it is not untwisted surgically. Can one have a partial torsion that would result in mild pain and swelling and then untwist itself? I suppose it could happen, but I don’t think it’s likely.
I think you need to have this checked out by your doctor when it is swollen and uncomfortable.