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What causes groin lump? 11 possible conditions

What Is a Groin Lump?

A groin lump refers to any lump that appears in the groin area—where the legs and trunk connect.

The lump can vary in shape and size, and may be painful or not. Some lumps appear on their own, while others appear as a collection of lumps. Some lumps may be mobile. A groin lump may remain skin-colored, or could turn red or purple. Some groin lumps may ulcerate (break open), or form sores.

The shape and appearance of a groin lump depends on the cause of the lump. Any groin lump that develops should be assessed by a doctor as soon as possible.

What Are the Causes of a Groin Lump?

Many groin lumps are cysts, benign (non-cancerous) lumps that cause no harm. However, some groin lumps can be indicators of a more serious condition.

Swollen Glands

If you have an infection or illness, such as a cold, flu or mononucleosis, your groin lump could be a swollen lymph gland. Typically, these will flare up at the same time as the lymph glands located in your throat and armpits. Your lymph nodes swell to remove bacteria and foreign particles, and will return to normal once the illness has passed.


A hernia occurs when the intestines or abdominal tissue pokes through an opening in a muscle wall or ligament meant to provide a boundary. For example, the intestines may break through a weakened area in the lower abdominal wall. This usually occurs due to a defect or weakness in the abdominal wall coupled with muscle strain. Hernias require urgent medical attention. They typically feel like large, soft lumps.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)

Some sexually transmitted infections (STI) can cause groin lumps due to swollen lymph nodes. These include herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhoea. Some STIs may cause a cluster of lumps that may ulcerate (break open) or form sores. STIs require medical attention to heal.

Saphena Varix

If you have a groin lump that disappears when you lie down, it could be a saphena varix. This occurs when the valve of the saphenous vein fails to open correctly to let blood flow through, causing the blood to collect inside the vein. Saphena varix causes golf-ball sized lumps that have a blue tinge. You are more likely to suffer from this condition if you have varicose veins, or an enlarged vein. This is an extremely rare condition.

How Is a Groin Lump Treated?

A groin lump cannot be treated at home. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible after noticing the lump, and return to the doctor if the lump remains after three weeks of treatment.

Medical Care

Because there are so many possible causes of a groin lump, your doctor will need to ask you a series of questions. This will include questions about your current health and if you have been suffering from any other symptoms. You may have a blood test to check for signs of infection, and the doctor will feel your lymph nodes for inflammation.

You will also be asked questions about the lump itself. These will include:

  • When did the lump first appear?
  • How big is the lump?
  • Has the lump grown in size?
  • Did the lump develop suddenly or over a few days?
  • Does the lump change in size or shape when you cough (this could indicate a hernia)?

You may also be asked whether you could have contracted an STI. Most STIs are diagnosed using a blood test, a urine test, or a swab of the urethra.

The treatment you receive will depend on the cause of the groin lump. Cysts may be surgically removed if they are large or painful. A hernia will require surgery to move the tissue back into place and close the hole in the boundary tissue. Swollen glands will typically go down in time, though you may be prescribed an antibiotic to help your body fight the underlying infection.

What Is the Outcome if Groin Lumps Are Left Untreated?

Your doctor should always promptly examine a groin lump.

While cysts and swollen glands are not likely to cause any long-term complications, a hernia can be fatal if not treated quickly. An incarcerated hernia occurs when part of the intestine becomes trapped in the abdominal wall, causing a bowel obstruction. This can lead to vomiting, severe pain, and nausea. A strangulated hernia is a medical emergency. It occurs when part of the intestine is trapped, cutting off blood flow. This condition can quickly lead to tissue death, and requires emergency surgery.

Sexually transmitted infections that cause groin lumps, such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia, can lead to infertility if left untreated. Infections such as syphilis can cause blindness, paralysis, and dementia. All sexually transmitted diseases require medication to treat, and can easily be passed on to others through unprotected vaginal or oral sex.

How Can a Groin Lump Be Prevented?

Most groin lumps occur naturally and cannot be prevented.

However, sexually transmitted infections can be avoided by always using a condom.

If you are at risk of developing a hernia, you may be able to reduce the chances of it occurring by avoiding heavy lifting, not straining during bowel movements, and maintaining a healthy weight. You may be more at risk of a hernia if you have a family history of hernias, are overweight or pregnant, or have a chronic cough.

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See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.



A hernia occurs when an organ pushes through the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. Hernias are most common in the abdomen but can appear elsewhere.

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Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). This STD causes herpes sores, which are painful blisters (fluid-filled bumps) that can break open and ooze fluid. According to the Centers for Disease Contro...

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Femoral Hernia

A femoral hernia occurs when a small part of intestine pushes through the wall of the femoral canal. It will appear as a bulge near the groin or thigh.

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Inguinal Hernia

An inguinal hernia occurs in the groin area when fatty or intestinal tissues push through the inguinal canal. The inguinal canal is located at the base of the abdomen.

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Lymphomas are cancers that originate in the lymphatic system, which helps fight infections. These include Non-Hodgkin lymphomas and Hodgkin lymphoma and the causes are generally unknown.

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There are many symptoms of the autoimmune disease HIV/AIDS, including persistent skin rashes, night sweats, and mouth sores.

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Gonnorhea is a sexually transmitted disease that affects warm, moist areas of the body. Early symptoms include pain when urinating and discharge.

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Undescended Testicle

The testicles are male sex organs responsible for producing sperm and hormones. The testicles form in the abdomen and typically descend into the scrotum during fetal development. If one or both testicles remain in th...

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Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is cancer that originates in one or both testicles (testes), the male reproductive glands located inside the scrotum responsible for producing sperm and the testosterone hormone.

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Infectious Mononucleosis

Infectious mononucleosis, or "mono," is a group of symptoms caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. One potential symptom is a pink rash that looks like the measles.

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Aarskog Syndrome

Aarskog syndrome is a very rare genetic disorder caused by a mutation on the X-chromosome that can affect a child's stature, facial features, genitalia, muscles, and bones. It primarily affects males.

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This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.