Scrotal swelling is an enlargement of the scrotal sac. The scrotal sac (scrotum) houses the testicles. Scrotal swelling can occur due to injury or an underlying medical condition. It may be caused by an accumulation of fluid, inflammation, or an abnormal growth within the scrotum.
The swelling may be painless or very painful. Painful swelling is a serious condition that requires emergency treatment. In severe cases and depending on the cause, not receiving timely treatment can result in the loss of your testicles due to the death of tissue.
What Causes Scrotal Swelling?
Scrotum swelling can happen rapidly or slowly over time. One of the main causes of painful scrotal swelling is testicular torsion. This is an injury or event causes a testicle in the scrotal sac to twist, which cuts off blood circulation. This very painful injury can cause tissue death to the scrotum in a matter of hours.
Medical conditions and diseases can also cause the scrotum to swell. These conditions include:
- testicular cancer
- varicocele (abnormally enlarged veins in the scrotum)
- orchitis (acute inflammation of the testes)
- hydrocele (swelling due to increased fluid)
- epididymitis (inflammation or infection in the epididymis, at the back of the testicle)
- congestive heart failure
Other symptoms related to these conditions may be present before scrotal swelling.
Signs of Scrotum Swelling
In addition to a visible enlargement of the scrotal sac, you may have additional symptoms. The symptoms you experience will depend on the cause of the swelling.
Common symptoms that may be experienced alongside scrotal swelling include a lump in the testicle and pain in the testicles or scrotum.
Contact your doctor if you notice either of these symptoms.
Identifying the Cause
Mention to your doctor any symptoms you are experiencing with the scrotal swelling. Let him know if your scrotum is painful or contains a lump. After gathering this information, your doctor will perform a physical examination. This includes a physical inspection of the scrotum. At this point, he or she will ask when you noticed the swelling and what activities you were doing before the swelling.
If necessary, the doctor may perform a scrotal ultrasound to view the inside of the scrotum. This imaging test will let him or her see if there are any abnormalities within the scrotal sac.
Treatment Options for Scrotal Swelling
Treatment options for scrotal swelling depend on the cause. If an infection caused the swelling, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection. If this is not enough to relieve inflammation, your doctor may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication as well.
Appropriate medications will be prescribed to relieve symptoms and swelling associated with other diseases. However, surgery may be necessary to correct the condition if the underlying cause is varicocele, hernia, or hydrococele.
Testicular cancer has several treatment options. The options offered to you depend on the severity of the cancer, whether it as spread, and how long it went undetected. Treatment options normally consist of:
- radiation therapy
- surgery (used to remove cancerous tissue and cancerous tumors from the scrotal sac)
In addition to receiving care from your doctor, he or she may suggest at-home treatment options, including:
- using ice on the scrotum to relieve swelling: this method of treatment is normally used in the first 24 hours of noticing the swelling
- taking an over-the-counter pain reliever: notify your doctor immediately if the pain is severe
- wearing athletic support
- using a sitz bath (shallow bath) to reduce swelling
- avoiding strenuous activities
What Is the Outlook?
The outlook for scrotal swelling varies depending on the severity of the swelling and the cause. Swelling due to injury will generally pass with time, while other causes require extensive treatment. With early diagnosis and proper treatment, outlook is generally good. Speak to your doctor about your specific condition, as outlook can vary from person to person.