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Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists

Located in Bellingham, WA - Serving the Pacific Northwest

If you notice that you have swelling in your scrotum, you may have a hydrocele, a condition where fluid builds up inside your scrotum. The team of expert urologists at Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists in Bellingham, Washington, offers diagnosis and treatments for hydroceles to protect your health and well-being. If you’re concerned about swelling in your scrotum, call Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists or make an appointment online today.



What is a hydrocele?

A hydrocele occurs when fluid collects in the sheath that surrounds one of your testicles and swells your scrotum. Many babies have hydroceles that disappear by the time they’re a year old. However, older boys and men can develop a hydrocele.

Hydroceles are usually painless and don’t pose a threat to your testicles. As an adult, you may experience some minor discomfort if your scrotum is heavy and swollen. Any pain tends to increase as the swelling grows.


What causes a hydrocele?

Babies have hydroceles when the fluid that fills the protective sac that surrounds their testicles as they develop is still present when the testicles descend, and the sac closes. In most cases, the baby’s body absorbs the fluid.

However, if you develop a hydrocele as an adult, it’s most likely due to an injury or infection that causes inflammation. For example, if you have a sports injury to your groin, the impact could cause swelling and lead to a hydrocele. Most hydroceles develop without any known cause.


When should I see a doctor about a hydrocele?

You should always see a urologist if you notice swelling in your scrotum. While hydroceles are typically benign, it’s critical that your urologist identify the cause of your swelling. For example, your hydrocele may be due to an inguinal hernia that has allowed part of your intestine to escape your abdomen.

Your urologist examines your scrotum and may perform a test called transillumination. During transillumination, they shine a light through your scrotum to determine if the swelling is due to fluid or a more solid mass. Your doctor also orders blood and urine tests to check for signs of other conditions that could cause your swelling. They may also order or perform an ultrasound.



How is a hydrocele treated?

If you’re not in pain and the swelling isn’t interfering with your regular activities, your urologist may take a wait-and-see approach to treating a hydrocele. In many cases, adult hydroceles go away on their own within six months.

Surgery is an outpatient procedure and usually takes less than one hour. You will limit your physical activity for four to six weeks post procedure.

However, if your hydrocele is large and causing pain, your urologist can perform a surgery to remove the excess fluid. They may also offer needle aspiration to drain the fluid without having to complete a full surgical procedure.

If you notice swelling in your scrotum, call Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists or make an appointment online today.