Testicular lumps and swellings - Treatment 

Treating testicular lumps and swellings  

Treatment for your testicular lump will depend on the underlying cause of the lump. 

Varicoceles

In most cases, varicoceles do not require any treatment. If you have a varicocele and are in pain or discomfort, there are several things you can do to help ease your discomfort:

  • take painkillers, such as paracetamol
  • wear tight-fitting, supportive underwear

If your varicocele is still causing you pain or discomfort, surgery may be recommended.

Surgery

A surgical technique called varicocele embolisation can be used to treat varicoceles. You will usually be referred to a urologist (a doctor who specialises in treating conditions that affect the urinary system) to discuss the risks and benefits of surgery.

Most cases of varicocele embolisation are carried out on an outpatient basis, which means you will not have to stay in hospital overnight. It is usually carried out under local anaesthetic (painkilling medication to numb the affected area).

Your surgeon will use X-ray equipment to guide a tiny tube into the affected veins in your testicles. They will use metal coils or a special liquid to block the veins. The blood will then bypass the blocked veins, reducing the swelling and removing the varicocele.

Varicocele embolisation is a very safe procedure, although there is a small risk of infection. If infection occurs, it can be treated with antibiotics (medication to treat bacterial infections). Other possible risks include:

  • the varicocele returning 
  • numbness or pain in the scrotum 

Some varicoceles require a different treatment in the form of surgery to directly divide the dilated (widened) veins. This is usually performed under general anaesthetic, so you will be unconscious. Your surgeon will make an incision (cut) in your groin and then find and remove the dilated veins.

More than nine out of 10 varicoceles are successfully removed through surgery.

Hydroceles

Hydroceles in newborn babies usually disappear by the time the baby reaches two years of age. Treatment is usually only needed if they persist for longer than this, or cause pain or discomfort.

Surgery

If you need treatment for hydroceles, a surgical procedure known as a hydrocelectomy may be recommended.

A hydrocelectomy is carried out under general anaesthetic. In children, an incision is made in the groin before sealing the passage between the abdomen (tummy) and the scrotum. In adults, the incision is made in the scrotum, the fluid is drained away and the incision is closed using dissolvable stitches. Most people will be able to return home soon after having the operation.

As with a varicocele embolisation, there is a small risk of infection after a hydrocelectomy. Children may be given antibiotics before or during the operation to prevent infection.

Epididymal cysts

Epididymal cysts do not usually require any treatment. However, if they are causing troublesome symptoms, you may be referred to a urologist.

Your urologist may recommend further treatment and suggest surgically removing the entire cyst under general anaesthetic.

Testicular torsion

If you have testicular torsion, you will need surgery as soon as possible to untwist the testicle. Permanent injury to the testicle can occur within four hours of having testicular torsion, which may affect your fertility or result in the loss of your testicle.

Surgery for testicular torsion is carried out under general anaesthetic. The surgeon will make a cut in your scrotum before untwisting the spermatic cord (the cord that the testicles hang from inside the scrotum). The testicle (or testicles) will then be stitched to the inside of the scrotum to prevent the spermatic cord twisting again.

The longer you wait before having surgery, the higher the risk that your surgeon will not be able to save the trapped testicle. Figures show that when people have surgery within six hours of testicular torsion occurring, nine out of 10 twisted testicles will be saved. However, if the surgery is delayed for 24 hours, only one out of 10 twisted testicles will be saved. 

Following surgery for testicular torsion, you may need to avoid strenuous activity for about a week. Your surgeon will advise you about this.

Other types of lumps

Other types of lumps are treated differently, depending on their cause. For example, if your lump is caused by an underlying infection, the infection may be treated with antibiotics. Read more information about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and urinary tract infections.

If you have been diagnosed with testicular cancer, it may be treated with surgery and radiotherapy. Read more information about treating testicular cancer.

If you have been diagnosed with an inguinal hernia, you will usually need to have an operation. Read more information about inguinal hernia repair

Page last reviewed: 01/10/2012

Next review due: 01/10/2014

Ratings

How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 69 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating

Comments

Going into hospital

Find out how to prepare for going into hospital, including what to pack, admissions and arranging time off work