What is Hydrocele?
What is Hydrocele? Hydrocele is the accumulation of fluid around the testicles in the scrotum, which is generally painless and harmless. Hydrocele generally occurs in newborns. Hydrocele cases in women do exist, but are very rare. These fluid sacs can make the scrotum (sac scrotum) swell and cause discomfort.
Testes or testicles are part of the male reproductive system in charge of producing sperm and testosterone. This pair of testicles hangs beneath the penis in two layers of sac called processus vaginalis and scrotum. Hydrocele generally forms in the processus vaginalis. Adult men with hydrocele usually feel uncomfortable because of the swelling of the size of the scrotum, and the weight is also getting heavier.
Hydrocele Symptoms and Hydrocele Risk Factors
In many cases, there are no specific symptoms that indicate the appearance of hydrocele. However, sometimes there are also feel the sensation of pain, reddish scrotum skin, and also felt the emphasis on the base of the penis. Generally the pain feels when the size of the scrotum grows larger. The size of the swelling can vary within a day. In infants, usually hydrocele swell will disappear by itself.
You should consult a doctor if:
- Pain or swelling that suddenly appears on the scrotum, after trauma to the scrotum.
- The scrotum appears to have swelling. See a doctor to see if the swelling is a hydrocele or something.
- In infants, when hydrocele does not disappear too after a year swell.
Risk factors for hydrocele increase in:
- Babies especially those born prematurely. The birth of infants with hydrocele is one to two infants among 100 births.
- Adult men over the age of 40 years. This risk is affected by trauma to the scrotum and infections including sexually transmitted diseases.
Causes of Hydrocele
The cause of most hydroceles is unknown. But in infants, hydrocele can form before birth. Hydrocele can also be a sign of an open space between the abdominal wall and the scrotum.
In the womb, the two baby testes that are at the bottom of the abdominal cavity will descend into the scrotum along with the wrapping sac, the vaginal processus. The fluid will fill and surround the two testicles in the vaginal processus. Normally the gap that connects the abdomen and scrotum will be closed before the baby is born, or immediately after birth. This fluid will usually be absorbed slowly in the first year after the baby is born.
However, the liquid may persist after a closed gap (noncommunicative hydrocele). There is also the possibility that the gap is not closed and the liquid can go in and out of the abdominal cavity (hydrocele communicant).
In adults, hydrocele can occur as a result of injury or infection by the testes or epididymis (sperm outlet). Filariasis, a parasitic infection caused by Wuchereria bancrofti worms, is the leading cause of hydrocele in adults worldwide.
Diagnosis of Hydrocele
In addition to a physical examination, your doctor may suggest urine and blood tests to see if there is an infection that triggers a hydrocele. Then, the doctor can also suggest an ultrasound to test whether swelling of the scrotum is caused by a hernia, testicular tumor or any other cause.
But before advising to test anything, the first thing a doctor will examine is the physical condition of the scrotum by:
- Illuminate the back of the scrotum with a flashlight until the light pierces forward (transillumination). If there is a hydrocele, the flashlight will indicate the presence of clear fluid around the testes.
- Check the consistency of the swollen portion of the scrotum.
- Pressing the abdomen and scrotum to test for any symptoms of inguinal hernia.
In children, if the hydrocele still exists after the age of two years or even the pain arises, surgery is required to remove it.
For adults, hydrocele usually also disappears by itself within six months. Therefore, medical action will only be done if the hydrocele causes pain or shyness of the patient. Operation of hydrocele surgery (hydrocellectomy) is only done if the hydrocele size is large enough to cause discomfort and depress other body parts.
After undergoing hydrocellectomy, the doctor will usually advise the patient to use a scrotal support strap (a type of scrotum support used after the panties) and compress the scrotum with ice cubes to reduce swelling.
Male fertility will not be affected by the presence of hydrocele. But, some serious illness can be marked by the emergence of hydrocele. Some of the serious diseases include inguinal hernia, which is part of the intestine of a person trapped in the lower abdominal wall (the groin area) that can cause deadly complications. Then, hydrocele can also be a sign of early infection or tumor. Neither infection nor tumor can decrease sperm production and function.