Spermatocele is an abnormal sac (cyst) which develops in the epididymis which is the small coiled tube that is located on the upper testicles which collects and transports sperm.
It is noncancerous and generally painless. The spermatocele can vary in the size. It can be smooth. It is filled with milky or clear fluid that may have sperm.
The exact cause for spermatocele is not known but it can happen due to blockage in one of the tubes which transport sperm.
In some cases spermatocele is called spermatic cysts. This is a very common condition. Usually, they do not reduce the fertility or they need treatment.
If the spermatocele grows large enough to cause discomfort, then your doctor can suggest surgery. In the most cases, men are not experiencing any symptoms from it.
If you have discomfort or pain, then the spermatocelectomy can give you a relief but there are some factors which can increase the risk for complications that can affect the fertility.
Symptoms of spermatocele
It is usually not causing signs or symptoms and it can remain stable in size. If the spermatocele becomes large enough, then you can feel:
- Fullness behind and above the testicle
- Heaviness in the testicle with spermatocele
- Pain or discomfort in the affected testicle
Usually, the spermatocele does not cause symptoms so you can discover this condition during a testicular self – exam or your doctor can find it during a routine physical exam.
If there is any scrotal mass, then your doctor should evaluate it to rule out a serious condition, such as testicular cancer.
If you feel swelling or pain in the scrotum, then you should talk with your doctor as soon as possible.
There are many different conditions which could lead to testicular pain and some of them need immediate medical treatment.
In the most cases, spermatocele are not treated and doctors are prescribing pain relievers to make you feel more comfortable. If you have some infection, then your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics.
Causes of spermatocele
It is not known the cause for spermatocele. It can result from the blockage in one of the multiple tubes within the epididymis which transport and store sperm from the testicles. It can happen when the sperm pools in the epididymis.
Doctors are not sure what the cause for this situation is. This is a very common condition and it is estimated that about 3 out of 10 men will get it at some point of their lives.
Those men who are between 20 – 50 are having increased chances of developing it. There are rare cases when it can cause problems in your everyday life so your doctor will remove it with surgery.
Risk factors of spermatocele
There are not many known risk factors for the development of spermatocele. Those men whose mothers were given the drug DES (diethylstilbestrol) during the pregnancy for the prevention of miscarriage and other pregnancy complications, have increased chances of developing it.
The use of this drug has stopped in 1971 because there were concerns for the increased risk of rare vaginal cancer in women.
Complications of spermatocele
There are rare cases when it can lead to complications. If yours is painful or if it has grown so large that is causing you discomfort, then you should do surgery to remove it.
The surgical removal can damage the epididymis or the vas deferens which is a tube that is transporting the sperm from the epididymis to the penis.
The damage caused to some of them can reduce the fertility. Also there are some cases when after the surgery the spermatocele can come back but this is not so common.
There is no way to prevent it but you should do scrotal self – exams at least once per month because this can help you to detect changes, such as masses in your scrotum.
Every new mass which you have in your scrotum should be evaluated promptly. Your doctor can tell you how to conduct a testicular self – examination so in this way you have more chances of finding a mass.