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Groin pain and swelling in men: What could it mean?

Groin pain and swelling could be a red flag for men and potentially indicate many different conditions. It is important to know what these conditions are, since they can range from kidney stones to cancers.  Not only can this be worrisome to any man experiencing abnormal swelling or pain, but depending on the extent of the pain and symptoms, it could be reason to see your doctor.

The most common cause for pain or swelling in the groin – the area between the abdomen and thigh – is a hernia.  This type of hernia is more specifically called an inguinal hernia, and it occurs when part of the small intestine bulges through a weak area in the lower abdominal muscles.  These hernias present as bulging in the groin and can often be confused with swelling.   Even a small hernia will cause intermittent pain, which is pain that comes and goes.  

However more severe hernias can cause unbearable pain for sufferers to the point of incapacitation. This symptom is not something to ignore.  Hernias left untreated put you in danger of part of the bowel getting through the herniation and landing you in the hospital for emergency surgery.  

Swollen lymph nodes are another common cause of swelling in the groin area.    Most often we do not notice these glands, but when they are swollen, or enlarged, they become evident to us.  Lymph nodes are an important part of the immune system and are located regionally throughout the body. The groin has a uniquely high concentration of lymph nodes, and, as part of the immune system, lymph nodes reflect abnormalities in that area.   Therefore you could be experiencing swelling of nodes from a urinary tract infection or some other type of infection your body is fighting off.

In general, infections are the most common causes of lymph node enlargement.  As mentioned, this could be from an infection in the urinary tract, but it could also be something a bit more serious such as infection from sexually transmitted diseases (STD).   Currently, there are more than 300,000 cases of STDs like gonorrhea in the country, so if you have swollen lymph nodes and it is not a hernia, then this type of infection is possible.   

Other causes of groin pain include inflammation and cancers.  Testicular or penile cancer can present with swollen lymph nodes in the groin, similar to infections.  In addition to swollen groin nodes, a dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin is also a symptom for testicular cancer.  

Not all swollen lymph nodes are abnormal, so don’t forget to consult with your doctor.  Paying attention to your symptoms and the progression of the swelling could be a great help for your doctor in determining the cause.  Let your doctor know if the swelling has come on suddenly or gradually, and if there is pain associated with it.  These small details could give a doctor valuable information about the diagnosis.

These are only some of the possible causes of pain and swelling in the groin.  Consulting with your doctor is your best defense against figuring out the cause of your symptoms, and treating an infection, hernia or cancer early.  When consulting with your doctor, remember to be detailed.  The more information you can give, the better able your physician will be to help you.

Dr. David B. Samadi is the Chairman of the Department of Urology and Chief of Robotic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He is a board-certified urologist, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of urological disease, with a focus on robotic prostate cancer treatments. Dr. Samadi joined Fox News Channel in 2009 as a medical contributor. To learn more please visit his websites RoboticOncology.com and SMART-surgery.com. Find Dr. Samadi on Facebook.

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