A spermatocele is a cyst that forms inside the scrotum, to be more precise, a cyst that affects the epididymis. The epididymis is a tiny little organ located on the top of the testicle. It is in charge with collecting and transporting sperm. A spermatocele is not a serious problem and never progresses into a malignant tumor. It is filled with milky or clear fluid and may contain sperm.
In majority of cases spermatoceles are approximately a 1/2 inch in size, but they may enlarge in time. They do not cause any problems with fertility and represent more aesthetic than functional problem. If the cyst significantly increases in size and starts to cause discomfort, it can be easily removed.
Clinical Characteristics of Spermatocele
If the cyst is small, it may remain asymptomatic and patients may not even be aware of its presence. Such cysts are usually found during routine examination and palpation of testicles. However, if spermatocele is large enough, it can cause pain or discomfort in the affected testicle. Larger cysts are responsible for a feeling of heaviness and some patients additionally report swelling of the affected testicle.
It is essential to consult a health care provider in case any of the mentioned occurs. All lumps found during testicular self-exam require further evaluation and must be always reported.
What Causes Spermatocele?
The actual cause of spermatocele has not been identified yet. Still, some experts believe that the cyst forms as a result of a blockage in one of the tubes that drain sperm from the testicles into the epididymis. The condition may also develop as a consequence of previous trauma to the testicle or inflammation and infection.
Treatment for Spermatocele
Asymptomatic spermatoceles are not treated. The same refers to small spermatocele that does not cause any discomfort or pain. In case pain occurs, it can be alleviated with over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen.
Each and every case of testicular lump must be reported. After setting of the definitive diagnosis doctor will chose the most convenient treatment option. As for spermatocele which causes unpleasant symptoms doctors generally recommend surgery.
Prior surgery, patients may undergo aspiration of the cyst and its content. Still, the chance of refill is high and this is why the surgery represents the most convenient solution. It is also possible to try sclerotherapy during which the doctor first performs removal of the fluid form the cyst and he/she then injects an irritating chemical which induces scarring of the cyst.
Surgery for spermatocele is performed on an outpatient basis. The doctor cuts the scrotum, removes the cyst and places stitches on the wound. The recovery is short and results are great.