Hydroceles are common in newborn infants. During development in the womb, the testicles descend from the abdomen through a tube into the scrotum. Hydroceles occur when this tube does not close. Fluid drains from the abdomen through the open tube and gets trapped in the scrotum. This causes the scrotum to swell.

Most Hydroceles go away a few months after birth. Sometimes, a Hydrocele may occur with an inguinal hernia.

In adults, Hydroceles may also be caused by:

  • Buildup of the normal fluid around the testicle (This may occur because the body makes too much of the fluid or it does not drain well. This type of Hydrocele is more common in older men.)
  • Inflammation or injury of the testicle or epididymis (tube connected to the testicle)


A painless swollen testicle, which has been described as feeling like a water balloon. A Hydrocele may occur on one or both sides.


Your Ohio State urologist will conduct a physical exam and discuss with you your health history.

The doctor will want to determine whether the scrotum is painful to the touch. Often, the testicle cannot be felt because of the fluid around it. The size of the fluid-filled sack can sometimes be increased and decreased by putting pressure on the abdomen or the scrotum. If the size of the fluid collection changes, it is more likely to be due to an inguinal hernia.

Hydroceles can sometimes be seen by shining a flashlight through the swollen part of the scrotum. Ultrasound testing may also be used to confirm a diagnosis.


Hydroceles from an inguinal hernia should be fixed with surgery as soon as possible. However, most other Hydroceles are not harmful. They are often treated only when they cause infection or discomfort. Your Ohio State urologist can determine the best course of treatment for you based upon the cause of your Hydrocele.

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