Lymph nodes are part of the body's lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a crucial part of the immune system and lymph nodes are only a part of the complex whole. For the most part, the location of lymph nodes is not affected by gender. The inguinal nodes, or those found in the groin area, are the exception. But what the lymph nodes can tell you about your body is far more important than where to find them.
The lymphatic system is an integral part of the immune system. Made up of lymph nodes, bone marrow, the spleen and the thymus, the lymphatic system filters fluids for impurities such as bacteria, viruses and even cancer cells. It produces white blood cells to help fight these pollutants. The spleen is responsible for filtering blood. Bone marrow and the thymus produce leukocytes and T cells respectively.
The lymph nodes are responsible for filtering lymph. Lymph is a clear blood plasma carrying oxygen, proteins, glucose and white blood cells. This clear liquid surrounds every cell in our bodies and is filtered by lymph nodes. The lymph nodes catch any viruses, bacteria or other pollutants and manufacture lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) to counter any infection they may find. When lymph nodes amp up their production of white blood cells, they swell. There are between 500 and 700 lymph nodes in our bodies. Most of them we can't feel, but there are some in the throat, arm pit and groin that become palpable when swollen.
Cervical Lymph Nodes
The anterior and posterior cervical lymph nodes are responsible for filtering fluids from places like your sinuses. Swollen lymph nodes in this area might indicate a sinus infection, cold, or flu. The lymph nodes you can feel are the anterior ones, located just under your chin, and are in the same location for both men and women.
Axillary Lymph Nodes
Located in your armpits, the axillary lymph nodes drain your arms, thoracic wall and breast or pectoral area. These might become swollen because of viruses such as chickenpox and HIV or cancers such as lung or breast. According to the American Cancer Society, about 1,910 new cases of breast cancer in men will be diagnosed in 2009. So these lymph nodes are equally as important for men to be aware of as women.
These are the lymph nodes located in the groin area. Naturally, due to differences in anatomy, they are not in exactly the same locations, but both men and women have palpable lymph nodes at the front of the body where the thigh meets the thorax. Swelling in these lymph nodes can denote infections of the leg and foot, the presence of sexually transmitted diseases, or lymphoma, a type of cancer.