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Spermatoceles (also known as spermatic cysts) are cysts (closed sacs) that develop in the epididymis. They are generally benign and painless and are usually filled with clear or milky fluid that can contain semen. They vary in size and generally are not a serious condition, requiring treatment only if they grow large enough to cause discomfort.

Generally, spermatoceles are best left alone even though they don’t go away on their own. In case they enlarge and begin to cause discomfort, the doctor may suggest one of the following procedures:

  • Spermatocelectomy: during this procedure, the doctor will make an incision in the scrotum and separate the cyst from the epididymis. It can be done under local or general anesthesia. This procedure does not guarantee that the spermatocele will not come back in the future.
  • Aspiration with sclerotherapy: this procedure is used less often as it can damage the epididymis. During aspiration, a needle will be inserted into the cyst in order to drain the fluid. If the condition recurs, the doctor can recommend aspirating the fluid again. Aspiration is usually used only on men over the age of 60.

If the spermatocele is causing some degree of pain but the doctor does not consider surgery necessary, he can recommend some over-the-counter medication like Tylenol or Advil.

There is only one type of spermatocele.

Symptoms of Spermatocele

Although it does not generally cause any symptoms, if it becomes large enough the patient can experience the following symptoms:

  • Feeling pain or discomfort in the affected testicle
  • Feeling a mass behind the affected testicle
  • A feeling of heaviness in the affected testicle

Diagnosis of Spermatocele

A spermatocele is usually discovered during a testicular self-examination or by the doctor while performing a routine physical exam. After discovering it, the doctor will use transillumination to check for any solid masses that can be caused by problems such as testicular cancer. An ultrasound may also be used to confirm the diagnosis.

Risk Factors for Spermatocele

There is only one risk factor for spermatocele and that is aging as it is generally found in men over the age of 20.

Causes of Spermatocele

There are no known causes for spermatoceles. They may result from a blockage in the epididymis. Trauma or inflammation of the testicles can cause blockage in the epididymis.

Although in most cases spermatoceles are best left alone, it is normal for people to search for different methods to deal with this problem. Keep in mind though that these treatments have not been scientifically proven so it is important to ask for a doctor’s advice before trying them. Some of these alternative remedies are:

  • Adopting a low-fat diet;
  • Boiling pumpkin seeds in hot water and consuming them while still hot;
  • Consuming more tomatoes as they contain antioxidants that prevent tissue damage;
  • Releasing the accumulated sperm regularly can reduce the chance of developing a spermatocele;
  • Applying topical iodine on the scrotum can help decrease the size of the spermatocele.

Since the exact causes of spermatocele are unknown, there are no ways to prevent spermatocele. It is important though to conduct testicular self-exams as they can help detect any masses that may appear on the testicles.

Regular self-examination is important, but it should not replace a doctor’s examination.

Are you suffering from spermatocele? You can always learn more about spermatoceles and how to treat and cure them by getting in touch with our highly-skilled urologists at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital.

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