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Testicular lumps and swellings: what could it be?


1st Jan 2015 Health Conditions

Testicular lumps and swellings: what could it be?
Testicular lumps and swellings can have many different causes. In rare cases, they can be a sign of testicular cancer. However, most lumps are benign (non-cancerous). 

Main types of testicular lumps and swellings:

  • Varicocele: a swelling caused by dilated (enlarged) veins within the scrotum 
  • Hydrocele: a swelling caused by fluid around the testicle 
  • Epididymal Cyst: a lump caused by a collection of fluid in the epididymis (a coiled tube behind the testicles)—if it contains sperm, it’s known as a spermatocele 
  • Testicular Torsion: a sudden painful type of swelling that occurs when a testicle becomes twisted, interrupting the blood supply to the testicles—it’s a medical emergency.

When should I seek medical help?

You should see your GP if you notice any lumps, swellings or changes to the testicles, as they should always be checked by a healthcare professional.
Testicular torsion is a medical emergency and will require urgent surgery within hours of it starting.
Other types of lumps may not require treatment because they often don’t cause any symptoms. Hydroceles in newborn babies often disappear on their own during the first year or two.
If a lump causes pain or discomfort, it may be possible to have it surgically removed.

Who’s affected?

Varicoceles are relatively common, affecting about one in seven men. They usually become noticeable after puberty because by this time the testicles are fully grown and the blood flow to the affected veins increases.
Hydroceles can affect newborn male babies, older boys or men after an injury or infection.
Epididymal cysts can develop at any age, but are most common in middle-aged men. They affect up to a third of men.
Testicular torsion usually develops in boys aged 13-17, but can also occur in men in their 20s—although it is an uncommon condition.