Get immediate medical treatment if you or your child develops sudden, severe scrotal pain or swelling, especially within several hours of an injury to the scrotum. These signs and symptoms can occur with a number of conditions, including hydrocele. These signs and symptoms may also be caused by a condition called testicular torsion. Testicular torsion is an emergency medical condition that occurs when a testicle becomes so twisted that blood flow is blocked. The testicle can only be saved if this condition is treated within hours of when symptoms began.
If you or your child has painless scrotal swelling, call your doctor. After an initial appointment, your doctor may refer you to a doctor who specializes in urinary tract and male sexual disorders (urologist).
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you or your child has had, and for how long.
- Note possible sources of injury or infection. Infants with hydrocele are typically born with the condition. But in an older child or adult male, the doctor will want to know if there has been any recent trauma to the scrotum. In sexually active men, possible causes of infection include having unprotected sex, having multiple sex partners or having sex with a new partner.
- Write down key medical information, including any other health problems and the names of any medications you or your child is taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor. Creating your list of questions in advance can help you make the most of your time with your doctor.
For hydrocele, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What do you think is causing this swelling?
- Are there any other possible causes?
- What tests do you recommend?
- What treatment approach do you recommend, if any?
- If you're recommending watchful waiting, how often are follow-up exams needed?
- What signs or symptoms will indicate that it's time to treat this condition?
- Does hydrocele increase the risk of any long-term health problems?
- Do you recommend any restrictions on activity?
- Are there any home treatments that might help?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask any additional questions that may come up during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
A doctor who sees you or your child for a possible hydrocele is likely to ask a number of questions.
If your child is affected:
- When did you first notice this swelling?
- Has the swelling increased over time?
- Is your child in any pain?
- Does your child have any other symptoms?
- What else concerns you?
If you're affected:
- When did you first notice the swelling?
- Do you have any signs or symptoms besides the swelling?
- Have you had any discharge from your penis?
- Have you noticed any blood in your semen?
- Do you have discomfort or pain in the affected area?
- Do you have pain during intercourse or when you ejaculate?
- Do you have a frequent or urgent need to urinate?
- Does it hurt when you urinate?
- Do you practice safe sex?
- Have you and your partner been tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
- Do your hobbies or work involve heavy lifting?
- Have you had one or more prostate or urinary tract infections in the past?
- Have you been diagnosed with any other prostate conditions?
- Have you ever had radiation or surgery in the affected area?
- Are you taking any medications?
What you can do in the meantime
If you are a sexually active adult male, avoid sexual contact that could put your partner at risk of contracting an STI in the time leading up to your appointment. This includes sexual intercourse, oral sex and any skin-to-skin genital contact.
Nov. 03, 2011
- Elder JS. Disorders and anomalies of the scrotal contents. In: Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1608/0.html. Accessed Sept. 17, 2011.
- Hydroceles and inguinal hernias. American Urological Association. http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=129. Accessed Sept. 17, 2011.
- Wampler SM. Common scrotal and testicular problems. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice. 2010;37:613.
- Barthold JS. Abnormalities of the testes and scrotum and their surgical management. In: Wein AJ, et al. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1445/0.html. Accessed Sept. 17, 2011.
- Albanese CT, et al. Pediatric surgery. In: Doherty GM. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Surgery. 13th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=5316074. Accessed Sept. 17, 2011.
- Hydrocele. National Guideline Clearinghouse. http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=12592. Accessed Sept. 17, 2011.
- Painless scrotal mass. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary_disorders/symptoms_of_genitourinary_disorders/painless_scrotal_mass.html. Accessed Sept. 17, 2011.
- Cimador M, et al. Management of hydrocele in adolescent patients. Nature Reviews Urology. 2010;7:379.
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