Causes of testicular atrophy include the thickening and stiffening of blood vessels known as atherosclerosis; undescended testicles, or cryptorchidism; and hypopituitarism, a disorder that causes the pituitary gland to attenuate or completely cease the production of certain hormones, according to the University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library and Mayo Clinic. Other causes of testicular shrinkage include prolonged and severe illness, inflammation and mumps. Persistent alcohol abuse, chemotherapy and radiation can also precipitate the condition.
Insomnia and other poor sleeping habits can also lead to testicular atrophy, reports Anthony Rivas for Medical Daily, citing a 2013 Danish study. These habits are associated with lower sperm counts. Alcohol abuse also negatively affects testicle size. A study conducted on rats and published in September 2015 showed alcohol alters the shape and function of Leydig cells, the testicular structures that produce testosterone. This causes the adjacent seminiferous tubules, which make sperm cells, to shrink. Combined with alcohol’s adverse impact on sperm cell mitochondria and testicular energy production, this triggers shrinkage of the testes.
Aluminum ingestion can also cause testicular shrinkage, explains Rivas. High levels of aluminum in the body can trigger adverse reactions that lead to cellular death and testicular atrophy. In addition, excessive levels of the metal can lower sperm counts. Repeated physical trauma to the scrotum, prevalent in sports such as skateboarding, can also cause the problem. A few studies have suggested a link between marijuana smoking and testicular atrophy, although results are inconclusive.