Lumps and swellings in the testicles are a relatively common symptom in boys and men, and can have a number of different causes.
The vast majority of testicular lumps and swellings are caused by benign (non-cancerous) conditions that may not need treatment, but it's important to know what's normal for you and to see your GP if you notice any changes in your testicles so they can try to identify the cause.
What causes testicular lumps and swellings?
There are many possible reasons why your testicles may become swollen or develop a lump. Some of the main causes are:
- varicoceles – swellings caused by swollen and enlarged veins within the scrotum
- hydroceles – swellings caused by a build-up of fluid around the testicle
- epididymal cysts – lumps caused by a collection of fluid in the epididymis (a coiled tube behind the testicles)
- epididymo-orchitis – inflammation of the epididymis and testicles
- inguinal hernias – where fatty tissue or a part of your bowel pokes through into your groin, which can cause the scrotum to become enlarged
A sudden and severely painful swelling in one of your testicles can be a sign of a condition called testicular torsion, which is where the blood supply to a testicle is interrupted.
In rare cases, testicular lumps can be a sign of testicular cancer. Cancer Research UK estimates that fewer than four in every 100 testicular lumps are cancerous.
Read more about the causes of testicular lumps and swellings.
Seeing your GP
You should see your GP if you notice any lumps, swellings or changes in your testicles.
Your GP will ask you about your symptoms and examine your testicles to try to identify the cause of the problem.
In some cases you may be referred for further tests, such as an ultrasound scan of your scrotum, to confirm a diagnosis.
If you experience sudden or severe pain in your testicles, it's important to contact your GP immediately or visit your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department as soon as possible because urgent treatment may be required.
Read more about diagnosing testicular lumps and swellings.
How testicular lumps and swellings are treated
Treatment for testicular lumps and swellings will depend on the underlying cause. Many conditions do not need to be treated if they are not causing any many problems and they are not cancer.
Some lumps and swellings will improve over time, and simple measures such as taking over-the-counter painkillers or wearing supportive underwear may be enough to relieve any pain or discomfort in the meantime.
Surgery may be recommended to drain away any fluid or remove any solid lumps, if the problem gets worse.
Testicular torsion will require urgent surgery to restore blood flow to the affected testicle because the testicle will start to die if not treated within a few hours of the problem developing.
Read more about treating testicular lumps and swellings.