Many things may cause a lump to appear in the groin or pelvic area, including cysts, swollen lymph nodes, a hernia, or enlarged blood vessels. Treatment will depend on the cause.

The groin contains numerous muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves. As a result, a lump in this area can lead to discomfort and reduced mobility.

There are several possible causes of a lump in the groin. The following sections outline some of these in more detail.

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Cysts are noncancerous growths that develop under the skin. They are usually harmless.

Two types of cysts can develop in or near the groin: epidermoid and sebaceous. Although both types look similar, they each cause different symptoms.

Epidermoid cysts

An epidermoid cyst is a movable nodule that sits just below a layer of healthy skin. These cysts contain a white substance composed of the protein keratin, which exists in the skin, hair, and nails.

Sebaceous cysts

Sebaceous cysts can develop inside a clogged hair follicle or sweat gland. Unlike epidermoid cysts, sebaceous cysts contain a yellow, oil-like substance.

Lymph nodes are small glands that are part of the immune system.

A person with an infection or other illness may experience swelling in one or more lymph nodes. The lymph nodes most prone to swelling are located in:

  • the armpits
  • the areas on either side of the neck
  • the groin

Some possible causes of swollen lymph nodes in the groin include:

A hernia is the medical term for when tissue or an organ pushes through an opening in the surrounding muscle. Two types of hernias can occur near the groin: inguinal and femoral hernias.

Inguinal hernias

An inguinal hernia occurs when fatty tissue or part of the small intestine bulges through a weakened muscle in the lower abdominal wall.

Femoral hernias

A femoral hernia occurs when fatty tissue or part of an abdominal organ pushes through a weak spot in a muscle near the inner thigh.

The symptoms of inguinal and femoral hernias are similar and may include:

  • a bulge in the area between the lower abdomen and the top of the thigh
  • a bump on the inner thigh
  • a lump in the scrotum
  • discomfort or pain in the groin that typically worsens with movement
  • abdominal bloating or pain
  • nausea or vomiting

Two types of enlarged blood vessels can present as a lump in the groin: femoral aneurysms and varicose veins.

Femoral aneurysms

The femoral artery runs from the top of each thigh down each leg.

A femoral aneurysm is the medical term for swelling of the femoral artery due to a weakness in the artery wall. The condition can present as a pulsating lump in the groin.

According to a 2020 article, femoral aneurysms most often affect males ages 70 and older.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are swollen or twisted veins. This swelling or twisting may occur when the blood pressure inside a vein increases. Varicose veins usually occur in the legs and thighs.

People should seek medical care immediately if they notice a new lump in or near their groin.

Although some groin lumps can resolve without treatment, others can lead to severe or even life threatening complications.

People should also seek medical attention if they experience any of the following symptoms:

During the initial consultation, a doctor will ask about the person’s symptoms and review their medical history. They may also ask whether or not the person has a family history of hernias, cardiovascular disease, or any other condition that could contribute to a lump in the groin.

In addition, they will likely perform a physical examination. This may involve the following:

  • inspecting and palpating the groin area
  • examining any lumps for symptoms of infection, such as tenderness, flushed skin, or swelling
  • taking the person’s blood pressure
  • taking the person’s temperature
  • assessing their weight or body mass index (BMI)

Diagnostic tools

The doctor may use one or more of the following tests to help diagnose a lump in the groin:

  • Ultrasound imaging: This is a medical imaging technique that can reveal whether a lump contains fluid or tissue cells.
  • CT and MRI scans: These are medical imaging techniques that create detailed images of structures inside the body, such as organs and blood vessels.
  • Blood and urine analysis: These tests can help identify infections.
  • Biopsy: This medical procedure involves collecting a tissue sample for laboratory analysis.
  • Cell culture: This involves collecting a pus or drainage sample for laboratory analysis.

The treatment for a lump in the groin depends on its underlying cause.

  • Cysts: A cyst may resolve without treatment. However, a painful cyst may require drainage or surgical removal.
  • Swollen lymph nodes: A doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics in cases of bacterial infection.
  • Inguinal hernia: Doctors can massage an inguinal hernia back into place, but surgery can be necessary in some cases.
  • Femoral hernia: Surgery is typically necessary for a femoral hernia that causes symptoms, enlarges, or gets stuck in the femoral canal.
  • Femoral aneurysm: A doctor may recommend surgery to treat a femoral aneurysm.
  • Varicose veins: Treatment may involve exercising regularly and wearing compression stockings to boost circulation. Doctors may also recommend:
    • Endothermal ablation: This involves using heat to seal off varicose veins.
    • Sclerotherapy: This involves using injectable medications to shrink varicose veins.
    • Ligation: This involves surgically removing varicose veins.

It is not always possible to prevent lumps from developing in or near the groin. However, certain types of lump are more preventable than others.

For example, people can help prevent cysts and infections by practicing appropriate personal hygiene and using barrier methods during sex.

A person’s outlook will depend on the cause of groin lumps. For example, cysts and enlarged blood vessels often resolve on their own and rarely lead to additional complications.

Similarly, hernias do not always require medical treatment. In some cases, a doctor can massage the hernia back into place.

However, in some instances, groin lumps can lead to complications without treatment. For example, swollen lymph nodes may indicate cancer in the body. Doctors can closely monitor these lumps and assess additional symptoms to ensure they promptly administer any necessary treatment.

There are several potential causes of a lump in or near the groin. Cysts and swollen lymph nodes are common causes. Other possible causes include hernias and enlarged blood vessels.

A person should contact their doctor if they develop a lump in their groin. They should also seek immediate medical attention if the lump gets larger or shows any signs of infection, such as flushed skin, swelling, or tenderness.

Some lumps will resolve without medical treatment. However, femoral aneurysms and hernias may sometimes require surgery.