A lump in your groin may be harmless. A cyst or swollen glands may cause a lump or it may have a more serious cause. Treating a groin lump depends on the cause.

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 or may not be painful. You may have a single lump or a collection of lumps in the groin. Some lumps may be mobile. A groin lump may remain skin-colored, or it may turn red or purple depending on the color of your skin. Some groin lumps may ulcerate, or break open, and form sores.

The shape and appearance of a groin lump depend on the cause.

Keep reading to learn the different causes of groin lumps, how to treat them, and how to know if you should consult a doctor.

Many causes of groin lumps are benign. But some groin lumps can be indicators of a more serious condition.

Cysts

Many groin lumps are cysts. Cysts are benign, or noncancerous lumps. They may enlarge to cause pain or discomfort.

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 when the lymph glands in your throat or armpits flare up.

Your lymph nodes swell to mobilize an immune response against bacteria and foreign particles. The swelling should go away once the illness does. Genitourinary infections, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs) may also cause lymph node inflammation in the groin region.

Hernia

A hernia typically feels like a large, soft lump. It occurs when the intestines or abdominal tissue push through an opening meant to provide a boundary. For example, the intestines may break through a weakened area in the lower abdominal wall.

You can also get a hernia in the groin area.

A defect, or weakness, in the abdominal wall coupled with muscle strain usually causes this. Hernias require urgent medical attention.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause groin lumps due to swollen lymph nodes. These can include:

Some STIs may cause a cluster of lumps that break open or form sores. STIs can require medical treatment, so getting tested is important if this may be the cause.

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’re more likely to develop this condition if you have varicose veins, which are enlarged veins that usually occur in the legs or feet. Saphena varix is an extremely rare condition.

Monkeypox

Monkeypox may cause a rash or sores on the body, including in the area around the groin or anus. Lesions may also appear on other areas of the body.

If you have monkeypox, you may also experience swollen lymph nodes, fever, and other symptoms.

If you believe you may have monkeypox, contact a medical professional to get tested. A doctor may recommend you self-quarantine from others at least until your test results return, as monkeypox is contagious. Some people may receive a vaccination or antiviral medication.

Cancer

Swelling or a lump in the testicle may be a sign of testicular cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. This tends to occur with a feeling of heaviness or aching in the scrotum or in the lower abdomen. Lumps in the testicle caused by testicular cancer may also cause pain.

You should seek medical attention as soon as possible after noticing a groin lump and return to a doctor if the lump remains after three weeks of treatment or if your condition worsens.

If you have reason to believe the lump may be related to a possible monkeypox exposure, contact a doctor right away.

Medical care

The doctor may ask you questions about the lump. This may include questions about your current health and if you’ve been experiencing any other symptoms:

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

The doctor may feel your lymph nodes for inflammation and order a blood test to check for signs of infection.

They may also ask you whether you could have contracted an STI. Doctors diagnose most STIs with a blood test, a urine test, or a swab of the urethra.

The treatment you receive can depend on the cause of the groin lump:

  • A doctor may recommend surgery to remove a cyst if it’s large or painful.
  • A hernia may require surgery to move the tissue back into place and close the hole in the boundary tissue.
  • Swollen glands typically go down in time, but a doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to treat an underlying infection.
  • If a viral infection, such as monkeypox, is causing your groin lump, a doctor may prescribe medication to help manage your symptoms.
  • If your groin lump is caused by an STI, a doctor may prescribe medication to treat the infection.

A doctor should always promptly examine a groin lump, as some possible causes may be severe.

While cysts and swollen glands aren’t likely to cause any long-term complications, some types of hernia can potentially be fatal if you don’t get treatment for it 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 the death of intestinal tissue and requires emergency surgery.

STIs that cause groin lumps, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, can lead to infertility if left untreated. Infections such as syphilis can cause blindness, paralysis, and dementia. All STIs require medication to treat and can easily spread to others through sex not protected by condoms or other barrier methods.

Monkeypox infections can be severe in those who have compromised immune systems. Testing positive for monkeypox may also allow you and people close to you access to the monkeypox vaccine. This may help the virus be less severe if they do have it.

Most groin lumps occur naturally and aren’t preventable. However, you can help prevent an STI by always using a condom or other barrier method when having sex.

If you’re 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 moderate weight. You may be more at risk of a hernia if you:

  • have a family history of hernias
  • are overweight
  • are pregnant
  • have a chronic cough

Getting the smallpox vaccine may help prevent a severe monkeypox infection. However, it may only be available to people who may have a higher risk of getting monkeypox or a higher risk of severe illness from monkeypox. This may include people with weakened immune systems.

Groin lumps can be harmless or severe. This depends on the underlying cause.

If you experience a lump in the groin, consult a doctor to determine what tests you need to diagnose the cause.

A lump in the groin may have multiple causes. Some of these causes may clear up on their own without medical intervention. Others may require medical treatment.