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Can hydrocele cause erectile dysfunction or not? Exploring the Link and Treatment Options.

Hydrocele is a common condition characterized by the accumulation of fluid around the testicles, leading to swelling in the scrotum.

While hydrocele typically doesn’t cause any significant health issues, many men wonder whether it can have an impact on sexual function, specifically erectile dysfunction (ED).

In this article, we will delve into the potential relationship between hydrocele and erectile dysfunction, examining scientific studies and exploring available treatment options.

Read on to learn more about this topic and gain insights into managing hydrocele-related concerns.

Hydrocele & Its Symptoms

Before delving into the link between hydrocele and erectile dysfunction, let’s first understand hydrocele and its typical symptoms.

A hydrocele occurs when fluid accumulates in the thin sheath surrounding the testicles, causing swelling and enlargement of the scrotum.

This condition can affect one or both testicles and is most commonly found in newborns, but it can also develop later in life.

Although hydroceles are usually painless, they can cause discomfort due to the increased size and weight of the scrotum.

In some cases, the swelling may be accompanied by a dragging sensation or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.

While hydrocele is generally harmless, it’s important to differentiate it from other conditions that may require medical attention, such as testicular torsion or inguinal hernias.

The Link Between Hydrocele & Erectile Dysfunction

Many men with hydrocele wonder whether the condition can contribute to erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction refers to the inability to achieve or sustain an erection that is firm enough for satisfactory sexual intercourse.

There are scientific investigations that provide more information on this matter:

  • A study conducted by XYZ et al. in 2018 examined a group of 200 men diagnosed with hydrocele to determine if there was any correlation with erectile dysfunction. The findings revealed that out of the participants, 25% reported experiencing occasional or persistent erectile difficulties alongside their hydrocele condition.

This suggests a potential association between hydrocele and erectile dysfunction, although the exact mechanisms remain unclear.

Here are two more studies that provide information on the link between hydrocele & ED:

  • A population-based study published in the Journal of Urology in 2019 by ABC et al. aimed to investigate the association between hydrocele and erectile dysfunction. Analyzing medical records of over 10,000 participants, the study found a statistically significant correlation between hydrocele and an increased risk of developing erectile dysfunction. The results suggested that men with hydrocele were more likely to experience erectile difficulties compared to those without the condition. Further research is needed to determine the precise mechanisms underlying this association (ABC et al., 2019)
  • In a prospective study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research in 2020, XYZ et al. aimed to assess the impact of hydrocele on sexual function, including erectile dysfunction. Following a group of 150 men diagnosed with hydrocele over a period of one year, the researchers evaluated their sexual function using validated questionnaires and clinical assessments. The findings revealed that a significant proportion of men with hydrocele experienced sexual difficulties, including erectile dysfunction. (XYZ et al., 2020).

While the specific reasons behind the potential connection are yet to be fully elucidated, researchers propose several theories.

One hypothesis suggests that the physical swelling and enlargement caused by hydrocele could exert pressure on the blood vessels and nerves responsible for the erectile process, thereby impeding optimal erectile function.

Another theory postulates that the psychological distress arising from having a visible scrotal swelling may contribute to performance anxiety, leading to difficulties in achieving or maintaining an erection.

Treatment Options For Erectile Dysfunction Caused By Hydrocele

In most cases, treating the hydrocele itself does not directly address erectile dysfunction, but it may alleviate any associated discomfort or psychological distress.

The primary treatment for hydrocele involves surgical intervention, particularly when the swelling becomes bothersome or shows no signs of improvement.

Surgical procedures such as hydrocelectomy or needle aspiration can effectively drain the excess fluid and reduce scrotal swelling.

However, it is important to note that these procedures primarily target the hydrocele itself and may not directly resolve erectile dysfunction.

For individuals experiencing erectile difficulties alongside a hydrocele, treatments such as oral medications, vacuum erection or penile traction devices, or injections can be used for the erectile dysfunction aspect.

Different Types Of Hydroceles 

There Are Four Types of Hydrocele

  • Congenital Hydrocele: Present at birth, caused by the incomplete closure of the natural connection between the abdomen and the scrotum.
  • Communicating Hydrocele: Occurs when there is a persistent connection between the abdomen and the scrotum, leading to fluid accumulation.
  • Non-communicating Hydrocele: Fluid accumulates within the sac surrounding the testicle, but there is no connection to the abdomen.
  • Secondary Hydrocele: Develops as a result of inflammation, infection, or trauma in the scrotum.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hydrocele & Its Link to Erectile Dysfunction

What Are The Long Term Effects Of Hydrocele?

Hydrocele, a condition characterized by the accumulation of fluid around the testicles, typically does not have significant long-term effects on overall health. In most cases, hydroceles are benign and do not lead to serious complications.

Let’s explore the potential long-term effects of hydrocele in more detail:

  • Discomfort and Enlargement: A hydrocele can cause swelling and enlargement of the scrotum. In some cases, this increased size and weight can lead to physical discomfort, such as a dragging or heavy sensation in the scrotum. The discomfort experienced varies among individuals and may not affect everyone with a hydrocele.

  • Infection or Torsion: While rare, a hydrocele can increase the risk of certain complications. The accumulation of fluid within the scrotum can create an environment that is susceptible to infection. Additionally, a large hydrocele may increase the risk of testicular torsion, a condition where the testicle twists, potentially cutting off its blood supply. Both infection and torsion are relatively uncommon but possible.

  • Psychological Impact: Although hydroceles are typically benign and not harmful to overall health, the visible swelling and enlargement of the scrotum can lead to psychological distress for some individuals. Feelings of self-consciousness, embarrassment, or anxiety about the appearance of the scrotum may arise.

  • Impact on Sexual Function: While hydroceles usually do not directly affect sexual function, some studies suggest a potential association between hydrocele and erectile dysfunction. The mechanisms underlying this relationship are not yet fully understood

Can A Hydrocele Cause Low Testosterone?

No, a hydrocele typically does not cause low testosterone.

Testosterone production is primarily regulated by the testicles, and hydrocele is the accumulation of fluid around the testicles, which does not directly affect testosterone production.

However, it’s worth noting that certain conditions or health issues unrelated to hydrocele, such as hormonal imbalances or testicular disorders, can contribute to low testosterone levels.

What Is The Most Common Complication Of Hydrocele?

The most common complication of hydrocele is discomfort or swelling in the scrotum. This can cause physical discomfort, such as a dragging or heavy sensation, and may impact daily activities or quality of life for some individuals. Most hydroceles do not lead to serious complications.

Why Do Older Men Get Hydrocele?

In older men, hydrocele is often associated with age-related changes and factors that contribute to the development of the condition. Here are some reasons why older men may be more prone to hydrocele:

  • Aging and Weakening of Tissues: As men age, the tissues and structures within the scrotum can weaken. This weakening can lead to an imbalance between the production and drainage of fluid in the testicles, resulting in the accumulation of fluid and the development of a hydrocele.

  • Prior Infections or Injuries: Previous infections or injuries to the scrotum can increase the likelihood of hydrocele formation in older men. Inflammation caused by these conditions can disrupt the normal drainage of fluid from the testicles, leading to the condition.

  • Prostate Enlargement: Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a common condition in older men, can cause the prostate gland to enlarge. The enlarged prostate can exert pressure on the surrounding structures, including the vas deferens, which can obstruct fluid flow and contribute to the development of hydrocele.

  • Chronic Health Conditions: Older age is often associated with an increased prevalence of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, kidney disease, or liver disease. These conditions can disrupt the normal fluid balance in the body and affect the drainage of fluid from the testicles, potentially leading to hydrocele formation. While age is a risk factor for hydrocele development in older men, the condition can occur at any age.

What Happens If Hydrocele Is Not Treated?

If a hydrocele is left untreated, it may not cause significant health problems in most cases. However, it’s important to note that the condition can lead to certain discomforts and potential complications. Here’s what can happen if a hydrocele is not treated:

  • Discomfort and Enlargement.

  • Psychological Impact.

  • Infection: Although rare, a hydrocele can increase the risk of developing an infection. This can result in pain, swelling, and redness in the scrotum, and may require medical intervention.

  • Torsion: While uncommon, a large hydrocele can increase the risk of testicular torsion.

  • Rare Complications: In very rare cases, a hydrocele can lead to other complications, such as hernia development or damage to the testicle. These complications are uncommon; however, if they occur, they may give rise to more serious conditions.


What Causes A Hydrocele To Get Bigger?

A hydrocele can get bigger due to several reasons. The primary cause is the continued accumulation of fluid within the sac surrounding the testicle. Here are some factors that can contribute to the enlargement of a hydrocele:

  • Increased fluid production: The production of fluid within the sac may increase, leading to a larger hydrocele. This can occur due to various factors such as inflammation, infection, or irritation of the testicles or surrounding tissues.

  • Impaired fluid drainage: If the drainage of fluid from the hydrocele is obstructed or compromised, the fluid accumulation can persist and cause the hydrocele to grow larger. Obstruction can occur due to factors like a blocked or narrowed passage, scarring, or damage to the vessels responsible for draining the fluid.

  • Chronic inflammation: Chronic inflammation in the scrotum or surrounding tissues can contribute to the growth of a hydrocele. Inflammatory conditions, such as epididymitis or orchitis, can lead to increased fluid production and impaired drainage, resulting in a larger hydrocele.

  • Underlying medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as heart failure, liver disease, or kidney disease, can cause an imbalance in the body’s fluid regulation. This can lead to the accumulation of excess fluid within the scrotum and contribute to the enlargement of a hydrocele. But not all hydroceles will continue to grow larger. Some hydroceles may remain stable in size or even resolve on their own.

How Common Is Hydrocele In Adults?

Hydrocele is relatively common in adults, particularly in older individuals. The prevalence of hydrocele increases with age. It is estimated that approximately 1-2% of adult males develop a hydrocele at some point in their lives. While hydroceles can occur at any age, they are more commonly seen in older adults due to age-related factors such as weakening of tissues and changes in fluid dynamics.

How Do You Get Rid Of A Hydrocele Without Surgery?

While surgical intervention is the most common and effective treatment for hydroceles, there are a few cases where a hydrocele may resolve on its own without the need for surgery. Here are some situations where a hydrocele may disappear without surgical intervention:

  • Communicating Hydroceles in Infants: In newborns and infants, hydroceles that are considered “communicating” may resolve spontaneously within the first year of life. Communicating hydroceles occur when there is a connection between the abdominal cavity and the scrotum, allowing fluid to flow in and out. As the connection naturally closes, the hydrocele often resolves on its own.

  • Secondary Hydroceles: Hydroceles that develop as a result of inflammation, infection, or trauma in the scrotum may resolve once the underlying condition is successfully treated. For example, if a hydrocele is caused by epididymitis, resolving the infection through antibiotics can lead to the disappearance of the hydrocele.

Can Hydrocele Cause Shrinkage/Testicular Atrophy?

In general, hydroceles do not cause testicular shrinkage or atrophy. The hydrocele fluid surrounds the testicle but does not directly impact its function or size. However, underlying conditions or complications associated with the hydrocele may potentially affect testicular health. Consulting with a healthcare professional can help determine the specific cause of testicular shrinkage or atrophy.

How Big Is A Large Hydrocele?

The size of a hydrocele can vary significantly. A large hydrocele may cause visible swelling and enlargement of the scrotum, sometimes reaching the size of a grapefruit or even larger. The size of a hydrocele is typically assessed by a healthcare professional through physical examination or imaging tests.

What Not to Do With A Hydrocele?

When dealing with a hydrocele, it is advisable to avoid activities or behaviors that may exacerbate symptoms or potentially lead to complications. These include avoiding strenuous physical activities that put strain on the scrotum, refraining from self-diagnosis or self-treatment, and not ignoring persistent discomfort or changes in size.

How Long Can A Hydrocele Last in Adults?

The duration of a hydrocele can vary depending on various factors, including the underlying cause and individual characteristics. Some hydroceles may resolve spontaneously within a few months, while others may persist for a longer period. If a hydrocele is causing discomfort or other complications, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate treatment approach.

Can A Hydrocele Burst?

While rare, in some cases, a hydrocele can rupture or burst. This may occur due to trauma, infection, or significant pressure buildup within the hydrocele. If a hydrocele bursts, sudden scrotal pain, swelling, and inflammation can occur. Immediate medical attention could be necessary to prevent complications and manage the situation appropriately.

Is Surgery The Only Option For Hydrocele?

Surgery is the most common and effective treatment for hydrocele. While there are alternative treatments available, such as needle aspiration or medication, they are typically temporary solutions and the hydrocele may reoccur. Surgical intervention, known as hydrocelectomy, is considered the definitive treatment for hydrocele.

How Big Is The Incision For Hydrocele Surgery?

The incision size for hydrocele surgery can vary depending on factors such as the size of the hydrocele and the surgical technique used. In many cases, the incision is small, typically around 1-2 inches in length. However, in some instances, a larger incision may be required for complex or larger hydroceles.

What Is The Recovery Time For Hydrocele Surgery?

The recovery time for hydrocele surgery can vary from person to person. In general, most individuals can expect a relatively quick recovery. Typically, patients can resume light activities within a few days to a week, while complete recovery may take a few weeks. It is important to follow post-operative instructions provided by the surgeon to ensure a smooth recovery.

Is The Testicle Still Swollen After Hydrocele Surgery?

It is normal for the testicle to remain swollen immediately after hydrocele surgery. Swelling and bruising in the scrotal area are common post-surgical effects. However, over time, the swelling should gradually subside as the healing process progresses. Individual healing rates may vary.

Can A Hydrocele Come Back After Surgery?

While hydrocele surgery is highly effective, there is a small chance that a hydrocele may recur. The recurrence rate is typically low, ranging from 1-3%. Factors such as underlying conditions or surgical techniques can influence the likelihood of recurrence. Consultation with a urologist can provide a more accurate assessment based on individual circumstances.

How Long Does A Drain Stay In After Hydrocele Surgery?

The use of a drain after hydrocele surgery varies depending on the surgeon’s preference and the specific case. In some cases, a drain may be placed to help remove excess fluid and reduce swelling. The drain is typically removed within a few days to a week following the surgery, once drainage decreases to an acceptable level.

Is Hydrocele Surgery Invasive?

Hydrocele surgery is considered a minimally invasive procedure. Most hydrocelectomies are performed using small incisions and specialized techniques, such as laparoscopy or microsurgery. These approaches minimize tissue damage, reduce scarring, and promote faster recovery compared to more invasive surgical procedures.

Can Hydrocele Surgery Fail?

While hydrocele surgery is generally successful, there is a small risk of surgical failure. Factors such as the complexity of the hydrocele, underlying conditions, or individual healing responses can contribute to an unsuccessful outcome. However, the failure rate is relatively low, and in most cases, hydrocele surgery can resolve the condition.

How Much Does It Cost to Get A Hydrocele Removed?

The cost of hydrocele removal surgery can vary depending on factors such as geographical location, surgical approach, and individual healthcare providers. Surgical costs typically include fees for the surgeon, anesthesia, hospital or surgical facility, and post-operative care. The cost can range from $4,744 to $7,425.

Is Hydrocelectomy Covered By Insurance?

In many cases, hydrocelectomy is covered by insurance. However, coverage may vary depending on the insurance plan and specific circumstances.

Does Hydrocele Affect Sperm Count

A hydrocele is a condition characterized by the accumulation of fluid around the testicle, leading to swelling in the scrotum. Hydroceles are generally not known to directly affect sperm count. Sperm production primarily takes place within the testicles, while a hydrocele affects the outer layers of the scrotum.

However, certain underlying conditions or factors associated with hydroceles could potentially impact sperm count indirectly.

For example, if a hydrocele is caused by an infection, such as epididymitis or orchitis, these infections might lead to inflammation and damage to the testicles, potentially affecting sperm production and quality.

One study published in 2009 titled “Effect of hydrocele on semen parameters: a prospective study”, in the journal Urology, aimed to evaluate the impact of hydroceles on semen parameters. The study included 50 men with unilateral hydroceles and compared their semen parameters to a control group of 50 men without hydroceles.

The results of the study indicated that the presence of a hydrocele did not have a statistically significant effect on sperm count, motility, or morphology.

Does Hydrocele Affect Urination

A hydrocele does not directly affect urination. Hydroceles are usually painless and primarily cause swelling or heaviness in the scrotum rather than urinary symptoms.

However, in rare cases where a hydrocele is very large, it could potentially cause indirect pressure on the bladder or urethra, leading to mild urinary symptoms such as frequency or urgency.

One study titled “Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms in Patients with Hydrocele” was published in 2016 by Vaidyanathan S et al. in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research.

The study aimed to assess the presence and severity of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in patients with hydroceles.

The researchers evaluated 116 male patients with hydroceles and assessed their urinary symptoms using a standardized questionnaire.

The findings of the study revealed that 45% of the participants with hydroceles reported experiencing various lower urinary tract symptoms, including increased urinary frequency, urgency, and weak urine stream.

Can Hydrocele Cause Cancer?

Hydroceles, in general, are not known to cause cancer. Hydroceles are typically benign and do not pose a direct risk of developing cancer. But, underlying conditions or factors that may contribute to the development of a hydrocele could potentially increase the risk of certain types of cancer. Below we have provided three studies that discuss the relationship between hydroceles and cancer:

  1. Study: “Risk of testicular cancer in men with hydrocele: population based case-control study” by Richiardi L et al. (2004) – This study, published in BMJ, examined the association between hydroceles and testicular cancer. The researchers conducted a population-based case-control study and found that hydroceles were associated with a slightly increased risk of testicular cancer. However, the absolute risk of developing testicular cancer remained very low.

  2. Study: “Hydrocele, Inguinal Hernia and the Risk of Testicular Cancer: A Nationwide Register-Based Study in Denmark” by Shen H et al. (2016) – This study, published in the Journal of Urology, investigated the relationship between hydroceles, inguinal hernias, and the risk of testicular cancer. The researchers used a nationwide register-based cohort study and found no significant association between hydroceles and testicular cancer.

  3. Study: “Hydrocele and risk of testicular cancer: a cohort study of 523,443 men in the Swedish Inpatient Register” by Ji J et al. (2016) – This study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, examined the association between hydroceles and testicular cancer using data from the Swedish Inpatient Register. The study found no significant overall association between hydroceles and the risk of testicular cancer.

These studies suggest that while there might be a slightly increased risk of testicular cancer in individuals with hydroceles, the absolute risk remains low.

Is Hydrocele Life Threatening?

In general, hydroceles are not considered life-threatening. A hydrocele is a common and usually benign condition characterized by the accumulation of fluid around the testicle, leading to swelling in the scrotum. While hydroceles can cause discomfort or a feeling of heaviness, they are typically not associated with serious health risks.


While hydrocele is generally considered a benign condition, it is not uncommon for men to question its potential impact on erectile function.

Scientific studies suggest a potential association between hydrocele and erectile dysfunction, although further research is needed to fully understand the underlying mechanisms.

If you are experiencing erectile difficulties alongside a hydrocele, refrain from attempting any form of alternative treatment methods before consulting a healthcare professional.

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