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Testicular Lumps and Swellings
Testicular masses in the form of swellings and lumps are common among boys and men. Most come and go without causing any serious complications. Testicular swellings and lumps can occur in one or both testicles due to many reasons. Not all testicular swellings and lumps point to a serious medical condition. In rare cases, a lump could mean testicular cancer. At the same time, a sudden and severe swelling could be a sign of testicular torsion. Most lumps and swellings, however, are benign and disappear on their own. Still, always seek medical attention when you notice any changes to your testicles.
Types of Testicular Lumps and Swellings
Testicular lumps and swellings can be due to injury, an infection, or a birth defect. There are different types of testicular lumps and swellings depending on the cause.
This is the most common type of testicular swelling and occurs in about 15% of men. Varicoceles occur when veins in the testicles dilate creating a lump. You notice them more after puberty. This is because the testicles fully develop at this age which means increased blood flow. Varicoceles mostly develop on the left testicle and vary in size. The affected testicle will hang much lower than the other one. Most of the time, there won’t be any symptoms. One in ten men will, however, report a dull or heavy pain in their groin area.
Hydroceles develop when fluid buildups in the testicles. These types of lumps are common in newborns although older men and boys can get them too. Hydroceles occur as painless swellings in one or both testicles. Boys born prematurely are at a higher risk of developing these kinds of testicular lumps.
This is a small swelling that develops in the epididymis. The epididymis is the long tube located behind the testicles. The tube fills with fluid that doesn’t drain out. Epididymal cysts are painless but some men complain of a heavy feeling or dull ache. Go for a checkup if the swelling doesn’t resolve or you are in pain.
Epididymitis and Orchitis
This is the inflammation of the epididymis due to a bacterial infection. Epididymitis is usually caused by STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea. Addressing the underlying cause should resolve the inflammation. Sometimes, an infection can also lead to a condition called orchitis. Orchitis is the inflammation of one or both testicles. Usually, the mumps virus or bacteria causes this kind of inflammation.
Testicular torsion is far more serious and usually a medical emergency. Most of the time, it affects teenage boys aged between 13 and 17 years. If not treated, it could lead to the loss of the affected testicle. The condition occurs when the testicles get twisted due to trauma or injury. Surgery is required fast to untwist them. The major symptom is usually severe pain in one of the testicles. Other symptoms may include;
- Severe scrotum swelling
- Nausea and vomiting
- Low-grade fever
- Abdominal pain
- A frequent need to pee
A hernia occurs when parts of your bowel poke through the groin and into your scrotum. This results in the enlargement of the scrotum and appears as a lump or swelling in the groin. Hernias are painful and need correction through surgery.
Sometimes, swelling or a lump could be a sign of a serious condition like testicular cancer. Testicular cancer is common among men aged between 15 and 35.
Symptoms of Testicular Lumps and Swellings
Almost all testicular swellings and lumps appear as noticeable swellings. Symptoms vary and depend on the underlying cause of the swelling.
- Varicoceles for instance don’t cause any symptoms. If they do, it will be a testicle that feels heavier or like a bag full of worms.
- Hydroceles occur in infants and are painless. When they occur in grown men and boys, they cause abdominal pressure.
- Cysts are painless but some men may notice one testicle feeling heavier than the other.
- If a lump or swelling gets infected, you may experience pain and tenderness. The infection could also cause nausea, vomiting, and fever.
- Testicular torsions are more serious. They may cause symptoms like fever, abdominal pain, nausea, and frequent urination.
- A testicular lump due to cancer will cause a dull ache in the groin or abdomen. Other symptoms include breast swelling or tenderness, scrotum heaviness, and pain. Fluid collection in the scrotum is also a common sign of testicular cancer.
Diagnosis of Testicular Lumps and Swellings
Most testicular lumps and swellings disappear without requiring any medical attention. If the lump or swelling is causing symptoms that are affecting your quality of life or recur often, see a doctor. The doctor will go through your medical history. They may also order tests to pinpoint the underlying cause.
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound pinpoints the lump’s location to rule out conditions like cancer.
- Urine and blood test: The doctor will take a sample of your urine or blood to test for infections.
- STI screening: Some swellings and lumps are due to STIs. The doctor has to rule this out before proceeding with treatment.
- Biopsy: The doctor removes a small tissue from your testicle to test for testicular cancer.
- Transillumination: The doctor shines a light on the scrotum. This shows the size and location of the lump. The doctor will also use that opportunity to see if any fluid has built up in the lump.
How to Treat Testicular Lumps and Swellings
The treatment for testicular swellings and lumps depends on the underlying cause. Some lumps don’t need treatment.
- If the lump causes discomfort and pain, medical intervention is necessary. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics if the swelling becomes infected.
- At the same time, if the lump is due to an STI, addressing that should resolve the problem.
- If the lump is cancerous, cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy will do.
- Sometimes the whole testicle is removed in case of advanced cancer to ensure that it doesn’t spread. The testicle can always be replaced through a testicular implant.
- Testicular torsions require correction through surgery as soon as possible.
How to Manage Testicular Lumps and Swellings
Some testicular lumps don’t need treatment. Cysts will resolve on their own for instance. If in pain, apply a warm washcloth.
- If you notice any changes in your testicles or pain in your groin, go see a doctor. Sometimes you may be dealing with a serious condition like cancer or STI.
- When taking antibiotics, make sure that you finish the whole round even when the lump has cleared.
- Learn how to do self-exams at home to check for testicular lumps and swellings.
- When should you see a doctor? Testicular lumps and swellings are common. See a doctor, however, if a lump appears suddenly, causes discomfort, or forms inside rather than on the skin. Seek help also if you have a fever, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.
- How often should you conduct testicular self-exams? Do testicular self-examinations at least once a month. You need to familiarize yourself with your testicles to notice changes when they occur.
- What do testicular cancer lumps feel like? Testicular cancer lumps can be as small as peas or even be a raised area that isn’t painful/
- I have lumps on my testicles, are they cancerous? Testicular lumps do not necessarily mean they are cancerous, there may be raised lumps on your testes that will go away or stay forever.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!