Causes of Groin Pain and Swelling in Men

December 19, 2015 Updated: December 19, 2015

Groin pain and swelling can be a red flag for men, indicating conditions ranging from kidney stones to cancers, so it is important to identify when something is wrong. Here are some of the possible causes.


The most common cause for pain or swelling in the groin—the area between the abdomen and thigh—is a hernia called an inguinal hernia. This occurs when part of the small intestine bulges through a weak area in the lower abdominal muscles. Inguinal hernias cause bulging in the groin that can be confused with swelling.

Small hernias cause pain that comes and goes. Severe hernias can cause incapacitating pain. Left untreated, hernias grow and can cut off blood flow to the intestine, leading to death of bowel tissue. Such a complication is life-threatening and requires emergency surgery.


Lymph nodes can also cause swelling in the groin. Lymph nodes are an important part of the immune system located throughout the body. The groin has a uniquely high concentration of them, and when they swell, it can be a sign of abnormalities in that area.

Infections such as urinary tract infections are the most common cause of lymph-node enlargement in the groin, but more serious infections, such as from sexually transmitted diseases (STD) like gonorrhea, can also cause lymph nodes to swell.

Inflammation and Cancer

Other causes of groin pain and swelling include inflammation and cancer. Similar to infections, testicular or penile cancer can cause swollen lymph nodes in the groin. A dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin is also a symptom of testicular cancer.

However, not all swollen lymph nodes are abnormal, so pay attention to the progression of symptoms such as whether swelling has come on suddenly or gradually and if there is pain associated with it. These small details can be valuable information and help your doctor determine the cause.

Consulting with your doctor is your best defense against disease and best way to make sure you catch an infection, hernia, or cancer early. When consulting with your doctor, remember to be detailed. The more information you can give, the better your physician will be able to help you.

Dr. David B. Samadi. (Courtesy David B. Samadi)
Dr. David B. Samadi.(Courtesy David B. Samadi)

Dr. David Samadi is the chairman of the urology department and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel’s Medical A-Team. Learn more at and visit Dr. Samadi’s blog: Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.