About 1 percent of adult men experience a hydrocele, which occurs when fluid collects around one or both testicles in the scrotum. Though typically harmless, the condition can be alarming because it causes your scrotum to swell. If your doctor diagnoses you with a hydrocele, here are some key questions to ask to help put you at ease.

Why do I have a hydrocele?

A hydrocele happens when fluid from the abdominal cavity leaks into the scrotum, forming a sac that feels like a small water balloon. Hydroceles are more common in infants (especially those born prematurely) and typically occur when a thin membrane that extends through the inguinal canal and into the scrotum fails to close properly during development.

Most of the time, there's no apparent cause of hydroceles in adulthood. Some possible causes may include:

  • Cancer of the left kidney or testicles (rare)
  • Generalized swelling in the lower half of the body