have various causes, including cysts, infection, inflammation, inguinal
hernia and tumors. The tumors may be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous
(malignant). Tumors growing within the testicles most often are
malignant, whereas those located elsewhere within the scrotum are
usually benign. Because of the possible severity of the scrotal mass,
it's important to have a doctor check out any swelling or lumps.
Specific causes of scrotal masses include:
This infection in the tubular coil (epididymis) that collects sperm
from the testes produces pain in the top and rear of the scrotum.
The pain is generally severe and develops gradually over several
hours or days. Fever and swelling also are common.
This common type of painless, benign cyst develops adjacent to the
epididymis near the top of the testicle.
This soft, usually painless swelling in the scrotum is a collection
of watery fluid in the sheath that holds the testicle. Normally this
sheath contains just enough fluid to lubricate the testicle. When
the body produces too much fluid or can't absorb enough fluid, the
excess liquid creates a hydrocele. Hydroceles are a common cause of
scrotal swelling and may occur on one or both sides. Hydroceles may
occur at any age, but occur most often in older men.
Enlarged (varicose) veins cause this painless, benign source of
scrotal swelling, more commonly on the left side. Blood backs up in
the veins leading from the testicles because of a problem with
valves inside the veins. The swelling is painless, and the area
feels like a bag of worms. This sensation may disappear when you lie
down. The varicocele itself isn't serious, but it may contribute to
This inflammation of the testicle is often due to a bacterial
infection or the mumps virus. It involves pain and swelling in the
scrotum along with a feeling of added weight in the scrotum.
Orchitis may also occur when there's an infection of the prostate or
the epididymis. Many less common diseases may have orchitis among
their manifestations. Orchitis can permanently damage one or both
testicles, resulting in diminished size of the testicle, inadequate
hormone production and infertility.
An inguinal hernia develops when abdominal contents, usually the
small bowel, protrude through a weak point of the abdominal wall in
the groin area, where the blood vessels and ducts from the testicles
enter the abdominal cavity. The result is a bulge in the groin area
that may extend into the scrotum and be painful or uncomfortable.
This condition is serious and identified by a lump or swelling
within a testicle, sometimes accompanied by a heavy feeling in a
testicle. If detected and diagnosed early, this type of cancer often
When to seek
See your doctor if
you detect any pain, swelling or lumps in your testicles or groin area,
especially if these signs and symptoms last longer than one to two
weeks. Make an appointment with your doctor even if a lump in your
testicle isn't painful. Only a small percentage of testicular cancers
are painful initially.