Hydrocele Problem: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Hydrocele Problem: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Published : Feb 04, 2024
Last Updated : Feb 05, 2024

A hydrocele is a condition in which the scrotum swells up because of the deposit of fluid in the thin sheath that covers the testicles. It might not be harmful but can cause mild discomfort along with tacky body image.

It is important to know that Hydrocele is quite common in new-born and children. However, this problem can also happen in adult men due to injury or some infection in the scrotum.

Almost 10% of newborn male infants suffer from hydrocele but it clears up within the first year of life that too without any specific treatment. This problem also occurs in 1% of adult men and disappears on its own.

There are two types of Hydroceles including non-communicating and communicating.


This type of hydrocele is formed in infants when the inguinal ring is closed but fluid remains in the membrane of the testicles. Mainly, the body absorbs fluid within a year.


There are very rare cases when the inguinal ring is opened and permits the fluid to pass back & forth between your abdomen as well as the membrane of the testicles.

Doctors have named this as communicating hydrocele. The scrotal swelling often leads to a change in the size depending upon the activity level of the person and the amount of fluid present.

Causes of Hydrocele

Keep one thing in your mind, the cause of hydrocele mainly depends upon the age of a person.

In babies

During pregnancy, when a male fetus grows the testicles develop in the abdomen near the kidneys. They move down to the actual position in the scrotum by the end of a full-term pregnancy.

In order to permit the testicles to descend, a muscle lining opens in the scrotum that ensures the formation of a canal or sac. Once the testicles move to their actual position, the inguinal ring is closed.

If the ring remains open or reopens then fluid might pass from the belly to the scrotum via a canal, causing hydrocele problems. Sometimes, babies are born before the testicles have inclined. In such cases, the chance of developing a hydrocele is increased.

In adults

In older males, if the inguinal ring is not closed up or it reopens then a communicating hydrocele is formed.

In adult males, hydroceles often have several other possible causes like:

  • Infection
  • Injury
  • Inflammation

Though hydrocele is not painful it can cause an uncomfortable feeling because of the heaviness in your scrotum. You must know that a hydrocele is not dangerous and is also not going to affect fertility.

In very rare cases, it can link to an underlying testicular condition like inguinal hernia, infection, or tumor.

No matter what is the cause of hydrocele, it is important to meet a doctor and get the right diagnosis.

Symptoms of Hydrocele

Though hydrocele does not cause any intense pain but there are some common signs and symptoms including:

  • Mild discomfort at the scrotum
  • The heaviness of the scrotum
  • Swelling of one or both testicles

Adult men with a hydrocele may suffer from discomfort due to the heaviness of a swollen scrotum. You must know that pain increases with the size of the inflammation.

Keep one thing in mind, the swollen area can be smaller in the morning and then larger in the day.


If a new infant has a hydrocele, it will go away on its own in almost a year. In case, the child’s hydrocele does not go away on its own or turns out to be very large then surgery is required by a urologist.

When it comes to adults, hydroceles go away within six months. A hydrocele normally requires surgery, if it causes discomfort or is a communicating hydrocele because it can further make you suffer from hernias.


Surgery for removing a hydrocele is performed after giving anesthesia. In most cases, a person is able to go home after a few hours of the surgery. A small cut is made in the abdomen or scrotum and then hydrocele is removed surgically.

Once the surgery is done, your surgeon will apply a large dressing to the place of your incision. Depending upon the location and size, there might be a requirement for a drainage tube for a few days.

However, there are some risks linked with anesthesia like:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Heart rhythm disturbances

Risks linked with the Hydrocele procedure includes:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots or extreme bleeding
  • A scrotal injury like nerve damage

Ice packs, a support strap for your scrotum as well as plenty of rest will help in easing the discomfort after the surgery. Your doctor might recommend a checkup exam as the problem of hydrocele can reoccur sometimes.

Needle aspiration

The other treatment option for hydrocele is to drain it with a long needle. The doctor will insert a needle in the sac in order to draw out the fluid. In some cases, a drug might be injected in order to avert the sac from filling again.

Needle aspiration is mainly performed on men who are at a major risk for complications at the time of surgery. The most common side effects of needle aspiration are temporary pain in the scrotum and the risk of infection.

Keep one thing in your mind, there are no medicines available in the market to treat a hydrocele. You must know that a hydrocele usually does not require to be repaired surgically.

A hydrocele goes away on its own within the age of 6 to 12 months. In case, the hydrocele is not resolved on its own then it requires to be treated surgically in order to prevent further complications. 

Once you undergo surgery, the pain will disappear almost after a week. If necessary then the doctor might recommend medicines for treating pain. Once the surgery is done, you must avoid activities like straddling such as riding a bike for almost three weeks. It is also important to avoid strenuous activities during that time.

Therefore, you must always keep the area clean to prevent infection.