A scrotal mass is an abnormal bulge or lump inside the scrotum. The scrotum is a sac of skin that contains your testicles.
A scrotal mass can be a swollen testicle, or it can contain fluid or other tissue. It’s possible that your mass could be cancerous, but there are a number of other reasons for a mass in your scrotum that are noncancerous, or benign.
The symptoms you experience as a result of your scrotal mass will vary depending on their cause. In some cases, there aren’t any symptoms other than a mass in your scrotum that can be felt with your fingers. You might also experience a dull ache, a sudden pain, or a feeling of heaviness in your scrotum.
Other symptoms you might experience include:
- pain that spreads to your groin, abdomen, or back
- testicles that are hard or swollen
- a swollen, tender epididymis, which is a tube located behind your testicles that stores and transports sperm
- a swollen scrotum
- redness of the scrotum
If the cause of your scrotal mass is an infection, you might have a fever and feel you need to urinate more often. There might also be blood or pus in your urine.
Many conditions can cause scrotal masses. Epididymitis, which is inflammation of the epididymis, can lead to a scrotal mass. Epididymitis is most often caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as chlamydia.
Hydroceles can also cause you to develop a scrotal mass. A hydrocele occurs when one of the naturally occurring sacs that surround each testicle fills with fluid. These sacs normally contain a small amount of fluid. If the fluid collects, swelling can occur.
Testicular cancer starts out as abnormal cells in the testicles and can be a potential cause of scrotal masses.
Other potential causes of a scrotal mass include:
- a twisting of the nerves that connect your penis to your testicles
- a hernia
- enlarged veins in the scrotum
- inflammation of a testicle caused by a virus like the mumps
When to See Your Doctor
Some causes of scrotal masses don’t require immediate attention. However, it’s generally a good idea to talk to your doctor about any masses in your scrotum. Some causes of scrotal masses can cause permanent damage to your testicles.
You won’t know what has caused your mass without proper diagnosis.
If your scrotal mass is the result of a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be a part of your treatment. If your infection is the result of a virus, antibiotics will be of little help and the best course of treatment is rest and pain medication.
Depending on the size, your doctor may simply leave the mass alone. If the mass is noncancerous and doesn’t cause you severe pain or discomfort, treatment might not be needed. If your mass causes you discomfort, it might be removed. This can be done surgically or your mass might be drained of fluid as is done for a hydrocele.
If the masses in your scrotum are caused by cancer, a cancer treatment specialist will evaluate you to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for treatment. Important factors in determining if cancer has spread beyond your testicles are your age and your overall health. The same factors are important in determining if cancer treatment is right for you.
Treatments for cancer include the following:
- Radical inguinal orchiectomy is a surgical treatment that involves the removal of your affected testicle and the tube that connects it to your body.
- Radiation therapy involves using beams of intense X-rays to destroy cancer cells that can be left behind after surgery.
- Chemotherapy involves using powerful drugs to kill cancer cells.
You can help prevent scrotal masses that are caused by STIs by practicing safe sex. While using protection isn’t 100 percent effective against all STIs, it can reduce your risk.
Wear a cup while playing sports to protect your testicles from injury. Checking your scrotum and testicles for lumps each month can help you and your doctor detect any problems as early as possible.