Know the basics
What is hydrocele?
A hydrocele is a buildup of fluid around one or both testicles. The buildup is painless, but it can cause the scrotum or groin area to swell. This swelling may be unsightly and uncomfortable, but it generally is not dangerous.
How common is hydrocele?
Most hydroceles are present at birth. Between 1 and 2 percent of newborns have a hydrocele. In men, hydroceles mostly affect men over the age of 40. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of hydrocele?
Often a hydrocele does not cause symptoms. You may notice enlargement of your scrotum.
Symptoms, when present, can include pain, swelling, or redness at the scrotum or pain at the base of the penis. A hydrocele may occur on one or both sides.
If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if:
- You or your child experiences scrotal swelling. It’s important to rule out other causes of the swelling that might require treatment.
- Your baby’s hydrocele doesn’t disappear after a year.
- You or your child develops sudden, severe scrotal pain or swelling, especially within several hours of an injury to the scrotum.This is an emergency.
Know the causes
What causes hydrocele?
Hydrocele can develop for no apparent reason. In newborns, it might develop from an opening between the abdomen and the scrotum. Normally such openings close before birth or shortly after.
In adults, hydrocele is often a result of an injury or surgery to the scrotum or groin area. In some cases, an infection or inflammation of the epididymis or testicles can also cause fluid buildup. In rare cases, hydroceles may occur with cancer of the testicle or the kidney. This type of hydrocele can occur at any age but is most common in men older than 40.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for hydrocele?
Risk factors for developing a hydrocele include:
- Babies who are born prematurely have a higher risk of having a hydrocele;
- Scrotal injury;
- Infection, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs);
- Males over 40 years old often develop hydrocele.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is hydrocele diagnosed?
Your doctor will start with a physical exam, which will likely include:
- Checking for tenderness or signs of enlarged scrotum.
- Applying pressure to your abdomen and scrotum to check for inguinal hernia.
- Shining a light through the scrotum (transillumination) to check for buildup of fluid.
After that, your doctor might recommend some further tests to confirm the diagnosis:
- Blood and urine tests to help determine if you have an infection, such as epididymitis
- Ultrasound to help rule out hernia, testicular tumor or other causes of scrotal swelling
How is hydrocele treated?
For baby boys, hydroceles typically disappear once the baby is developed enough. In most cases, it takes a year for the hydrocele to go away. If it lasts longer, it might need to be surgically removed.
For adult males, the condition often go away after the underlying cause is treated. It can take six months for it to heal. Like in children, if a hydrocele doesn’t get better or if the enlargement continues to the point of discomfort or disfigurement, then it might need to be surgically removed.
The surgery will address the fluid buildup by sealing the opening between the scrotum and the abdomen to prevent further buildup as well as draining them from the scrotum with a needle and syringe. If your condition does not allow for surgery operation, a drainage should be enough to solve hydrocele. However, there is a risk of recurrence for this treatment. You might need a sclerotherapy – an injection of a solution to stop the hydrocele recurrence – after having it drained.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you or your child.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage hydrocele?
The following lifestyle changes and home remedies can help you manage hydrocele:
- Ask your doctor for pain medication if there is pain after the treatment.
- Avoid activities that involve straddling, like riding a bike, for at least three weeks.
- Get plenty of rest the week after the surgery.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Hydrocele. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hydrocele/basics/definition/con-20024139. Accessed August 12, 2016.
Hydrocele – Topic overview. http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/tc/hydrocele-topic-overview. Accessed August 12, 2016.
Hydrocele. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000518.htm. Accessed August 12, 2016.