Summary Scrotal swelling is the swelling of scrotum (the sack/bag that holds your balls). Reasons can be many from a harmless cyst to cancerous tumor. If you have persistent pain and see any kind of swelling, don’t delay; see a good sex specialist immediately. After a physical examination, your doctor may ask for imaging or biopsy to determine/confirm the actual cause and treat accordingly. Treatment of scrotal swelling may be as simple as a prescription or may even require a surgery.
Scrotum is the sack or bag that holds a man’s two testicles. Some men are born with one or no testicles in cases of undescended testicles but that will be a different medical condition. Scrotal swelling refers to the swelling of the scrotal sack due to various conditions. The swelling in scrotum can be spread throughout the scrotum or just lumps may be found in different places in the scrotum. Most of the times, scrotal swelling is benign (non cancerous) but rarely cancer tumors may be found. Scrotal swelling may be painful or totally painless and you may detect it only when you touch them to wash.
Causes of Scrotal Swelling
Hydrocele – Accumulation of fluids around the testicles is called Hydrocele. A hyrdocele can form at birth or later during the life. When the testicles descend from the abdomen, the opening through which they drop into the scrotum should close. If that opening doesn’t close properly, fluids can pass through into the scrotum and result in scrotal swelling. The reason for formation of hydrocele during the lifetime is not clear yet.
Hernia – The colon / large intestine in some people drop through the opening (in the abdomen) into the scrotum (hernia) resulting in scrotal swelling.
Cysts – Collection of fluids in the scrotum. Some cysts are as small as pimples while others grow too big to cause discomfort and swelling.
Varicoceles – Swollen veins in the scrotum. If a varicocele happens during the growth of testicles, it may restrict the growth and development of the testicle.
Injury – An injury to the groin may result in swelling of the scrotum. If the swelling and pain lasts for more than 2 days, you must immediately see a sexologist for assessment of your condition.
Tumors – Rare but possible. Formation of cancer tumors can also make you feel as swellings in the scrotum.
Idiopathic Swelling – Swelling of scrotum for no clear reason or a reason that is not clearly understood. Such swellings subside on their own in a week, if not, you must see a good sexologist near you says Dr. Karthik Gunasekaran from Metromale Clinic & Fertility Center in Chennai.
Congestive heart failure – Can also lead to scrotal swelling.
Testicular Torsion – If event such as injury or an accident to the testicles that causes a testicle to twist, the spermatic cord, blood carrying vessels attached to it also get twisted. This cuts of blood supply to the testis resulting in the death of the tissues inside the testicle.
Symptoms of Scrotal Swelling
Swelling of scrotum is a no brainer symptom of scrotal swelling. But, depending on the cause of swelling, the size of swelling and the shape may vary. You may feel small lumps in the scrotum or a single large swelling. At times, the swelling may be associated with severe pain to nearly no pain at all. Felling of heaviness and difficulty in walking are other symptoms of scrotal swelling.
How is scrotal swelling diagnosed?
Typical diagnosis of scrotal swelling starts with a physical examination. If your doctor is not sure of the issue, then he/she may request you to get a scan or other imaging tests done.
In case if your doctors suspects tumor or if he/she wants to rule out tumor, a biopsy may be done where a sample tissue is taken from the swollen area and observed under a microscope to detect the presence of pre-cancer cells or cancer cells.
Treatment of scrotal swelling
Treatment for scrotal swelling depends on the diagnosis of cause of the condition.
Hydrocele – if a hydrocele is found in a new born, mostly no treatment is required as the opening close on their own in short time. In some cases, the fluids may have to be sucked out.
Hernia – a surgery will be required to close the opening as this won’t go away on its own.
Cysts – They generally don’t require any treatment but if the cysts are large, they may have to be drained out.
Varicoceles – Unless your doctor determines that they pose a risk of causing infertility, treatment may not be required. Your doctor will suggest the best approach depending on your condition.
Tumors – If the tumors are not benign, depending on the stage, appropriate treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy etc may be performed.
Scrotal Swelling In short
If you have swollen scrotum or if you find small swellings, wait for few days and see if they subside. If they cause little to severe pain, see a good sexologist immediately.
If you have met with any type of accident where you hurt your testicles or the groin area, see your doctor immediately. Ignoring scrotal swelling and tolerating/managing pain with pain killers can result in infertility depending on the cause. It is always advisable to have a specialist look at your problem and diagnose it and treat it.