Spermatoceles are atypical cysts that grow near the upper portion of the testicles. These masses are filled with a milky colored fluid and normally they contain sperm. These cysts can grow to various sizes and they generally are not cancerous.
The reason why these cysts appear is not known and it is surmised that they might occur when one of the tubes that carry and hold sperm becomes obstructed. Another theory is that a blockage occurs when there is inflammation or trauma. Spermatoceles normally occur in adult males who are 20 to 50 years old.
Many men who have a spermatocele do not notice any symptoms unless the cyst grows large. If this happens, the testicle may be painful or it may feel uncomfortable. There may also be a sensation of weightiness in the scrotum. Individuals may be able to feel the growth over the top of the testicle.
It is not uncommon for individuals to have a spermatocele and not know it, but when a growth is found in the area of the testicles, it is important to have it examined by a medical professional.
Spermatocele usually develops as a result of a blockage in one of the tubules which connect the testis to the epididymis. The epididymis is a series of tubes at the rear side of the testicles through which sperm travels from the testicles.
It is not fully understood why blockages can occur and result in spermatocele. One theory is that trauma to the testicles and subsequent inflammation could trigger the blockage which then slowly develops into a cyst. Genetics could also be at play, with some men simply being more likely to develop spermatocele than others.
In most cases, treatment is not necessary for a spermatocele and a physician will just recommend watching it for signs of growth. If the cyst becomes painful or too irritating, there are various treatments available. A physician may first prescribe medications for swelling and pain.
If necessary, an outpatient surgery, which is called a spermatocelectomy, is performed to remove the growth. Other procedures, though not as common, include an aspiration or sclerotherapy. During an aspiration procedure, a physician inserts a needle into the cyst and removes the fluid. While performing sclerotherapy, a substance that acts as an irritant is injected into the cyst. This causes scar tissue to form and close up the open area of the spermatocele.
There is no clear way to prevent spermatocele, but frequent self-examinations of the testicles may help to prevent more serious conditions. Spermatocele is harmless and often does not require any treatment, but any masses found in the testicles should be examined by a doctor promptly to check that they are not cancerous.
It is usually best to examine the testicles after taking a shower as the warm water helps to relax the scrotum and makes it easier to feel any unusual lumps. Firstly, check for swelling on the skin of the scrotum. Then, using both hands, place the index and middle fingers underneath the testicles and the thumbs on top. Gently roll the testicle between the thumbs and fingers to check for any masses.
You’ll probably notice a cord-like structure running upward towards the back of the testicles. This is the epididymis and is normal. Any other unusual lumps in the testicles, whether painful or not, should be reported to a doctor as soon as possible.
It’s also important to look out for changes in the size, shape, and position of the testicles. It’s normal for one testicle to be larger than the other, and for one to hang lower than the other. However, if the size and position of either testicle changes, you should consult your doctor urgently. By checking your testicles on a monthly basis, you will be able to more easily notice any abnormalities like this.