A swollen scrotum can be alarming, but most of the time it is a harmless, treatable problem. You may notice swelling of the entire scrotum, or small lumps on one side. Some patients find it painful, while others do not experience any pain at all.
There are a number of potential causes of a swollen scrotum. Here, we will look at the common causes and whether a hernia could be a culprit. Remember, any swelling and lumps on the scrotum should be checked over by a doctor. While most of the time it is harmless, in rare cases it could point to cancer.
What are the main causes of a swollen scrotum?
Several things can cause the scrotum to swell up. Some of the most common causes include:
- Hydroceles and hernias
Hydroceles and hernias tend to be the most common causes. Hydroceles occur when fluid builds up around the testicles. It is common at birth, with approximately 10% of males born with a hydrocele. However, they can also occur later on in life, often for no apparent reason.
An inguinal hernia can develop when part of the intestine drops into the scrotum with the testes. They also occur in around 1% to 5% of males at birth, particularly premature infants. As you age, hernias can also be caused by a weakness within the groin.
Cysts are small soft lumps filled with fluid. They can vary in size, and larger cysts can place pressure on the scrotum. While they can occur due to infection or injury, in most cases the cause is unclear.
Varicoceles is a collection of swollen veins within the scrotum. They can develop in puberty, potentially slowing down the growth of one testicle. Occasionally, they can cause issues with fertility.
Sometimes, injuries can lead to swelling within the scrotum. If you experience an injury to the groin, it can cause significant swelling which should subside within a few days.
Finally, in rare cases a swollen scrotum could indicate a tumour. This is especially rare in children under the age of 15. It tends to mostly affect men aged 20-34, though testicular cancer is one of the less common types. With that being said, you should always get a swollen scrotum looked over to rule out cancer.
Symptoms to watch out for
So, now you know the causes of a swollen scrotum, what symptoms should you be looking out for?
Cysts are usually pain-free. You won’t have difficulty relieving the bowels or bladder, and they won’t become infected. With Varicoceles, you won’t typically notice any symptoms. In some cases, they can cause a little pain and discomfort.
If the cause is Hydroceles, it typically doesn’t lead to any symptoms. Some men do experience a full or heavy sensation within the scrotum, however.
With a hernia, unexplained swelling is the number one symptom. If the bulging intestine enters the scrotum, it can also cause pain. Hernias do not go away on their own and may grow in time, so surgery is recommended to treat them.
These are some of the main causes and symptoms of a swollen scrotum you should be aware of. If it is a hernia, there are some great treatment options available. So if you are experiencing pain or discomfort, book a consultation with Mr Woodward today.