What are hydroceles?

penis-diagram-scrotum

A hydrocele testis is the accumulation of fluid around a testicle that results in swelling of the scrotum (the sac under the penis that houses the testicles).

How common are hydroceles?

Hydroceles are fairly common in newborns. Most hydroceles disappear naturally in a boy’s first year of life.

Older males can also develop a hydrocele, typically as a result of injury or inflammation within the scrotum.

What causes hydrocele?

Testicles grow in a boy’s abdomen early in development while in the womb. Before birth the testicles descend into the scrotum.

Typically, after the testicle has dropped, the path it took from the abdomen will close. In some boys this channel remains open leaving a path for fluid to move to the testicle. When this happens, fluid is able to surround the testicle causing a hydrocele.

What are the symptoms of hydrocele?

Most men don’t have any symptoms but the most common symptoms of a hydrocele include:

  • Swelling of the scrotum
  • A feeling of pressure at the base of the penis
  • Mild pain or redness of the scrotum

If you notice any changes in your testicles make sure to monitor them regularly and visit a doctor immediately if there is no improvement.

How are hydroceles diagnosed?

A doctor will be able to determine if a hydrocele is present through a physical examination. As part of the exam, your doctor may shine a light behind each testicle to check for solid masses that may be caused by other problems.

For best protection be sure to do regular self-checks and have routine physical exams by a doctor.

How are hydroceles treated?

In most cases hydroceles treatment is not necessary. However, hydroceles are treated when men are in constant pain, if the scrotum is extremely swollen, or there is a risk to the penis or testicles.

Fluid can be removed with a needle however this tends to be a temporary fix and the fluid is likely to return. Surgery can be performed to remove the fluid and close up the source of the fluid flow to the testicle by a process called a hydrocelectomy.

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