Men with Chronic Scrotal Pain Which Can Make Sex and Walking Difficult Wanted by Scientists for Trial

Scientists in Canada are looking for men suffering from chronic scrotal pain to test out a new treatment which they hope will help those dealing with the condition which can make activities like walking and sex difficult.

Dr. Ryan Flannigan, assistant professor and director of the male infertility and sexual medicine research program at the University of British Columbia, said in a statement that between 75 to 100 men complaining of scrotal pain have visited him in the past six months.

"In many cases, it's very debilitating," Flannigan said in a statement. "People have to avoid certain activities such as walking, running and cycling. Even sitting or wearing form-fitting clothing can trigger pain, as well as intercourse and ejaculation. Some people are missing work and occasionally people are on disability because of it."

Flannigan told Newsweek: "Some men experience pain that prevents them from working and are willing to proceed with the surgical removal of their testicle to manage their pain."

Flannigan told CTV News the "bothersome" condition can also have a psychological impact on sufferers and is "often associated with depression."

man, doctor, patient, therapy, stock, getty
Researchers in Canada are recruiting men for a study on scrotal treatments. Getty

Some men may find their symptoms go away if they rest, stop wearing tight-fitting underwear, and avoid lifting heavy objects. But others must try treatments like physiotherapy, drugs such as antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, and medications which regulate neurons. Surgery can involve spermatic cord blocks, where anesthesia is administered to the area; varicocelectomy where enlarged scrotal veins are removed; epididymectomy which sees the tube holding sperm removed; and vasovasostomy to reverse a vasectomy.

Doctors may treat patients resistant to other treatments with injections into the spermatic cord, which is full of nerves, for short-term relief, Flannigan explained. The anesthetic Lidocaine, for instance, can ease the pain for around 1.5 hours, he said.

Flannigan and colleagues are looking for men to help them test a polymer paste which they say will release medication gradually. The trial will launch in July 2019.

The researcher told CTV News he hopes one injection will give relief for seven to 14 days.

"We're hoping that this study potentially offers new therapy for men who otherwise didn't have treatment options, or that it serves as a less invasive treatment for men considering surgical options," Flannigan told the broadcaster.

Chronic scrotal pain is characterized by constant or on-and-off pain in the area for at least three months which prevents a man from going about his daily life. It is most common in men in their mid to late thirties and their twenties, but teenagers and older people can also experience it. Flannigan told Newsweek it's unclear why men of this age are affected.

The causes of chronic scrotal pain are wide-ranging, from being hit in the region, infections, to the epididymis—which carries sperm—becoming inflamed. Treatments to repair hernias can also trigger it, as well as vasectomies. As many as 44 percent of men don't know what the cause is, according to the University of British Columbia.

To find the source of the pain, a doctor might perform a physical examination on the patient, and carry out STI screenings, urine tests, and an ultrasound.

Many cases go undiagnosed, according to Flannigan who is also a senior scientist at the Vancouver Prostate Centre. Around 4.5 percent of men can be hit with chronic scrotal pain, with only around 0.5 percent visiting the doctor to treat the problem, according to the University of British Columbia.

Flannigan said evidence suggests men may be less likely to seek treatment than women because of "masculinity, identity and roles in our society, especially in younger adults."

Men interested in joining the trial can find out more by contacting the Vancouver Prostate Centre by email on, or by calling 604-875-5675.

This article has been updated with comment from Dr. Ryan Flannigan.