The only common sign of a testicular hydrocele is a painless swelling of one or both testicles, although sometimes the weight or size of the swollen scrotum can cause discomfort, states Mayo Clinic. To confirm the diagnosis of a testicular hydrocele, a doctor typically shines a light through the scrotum. If a hydrocele is present, the light will show the presence of clear fluid around the testicles.
A hydrocele is a sac filled with fluid that surrounds a testicle, explains Mayo Clinic. It rarely causes fertility or other problems on its own, but it can indicate other, more serious problems. Testicular hydroceles are relatively common in newborns, but these usually disappear on their own without complications. If they do not go away after a year, it can indicate that the sac is open to the abdominal cavity, which is a risk factor for an inguinal hernia, potentially allowing a loop of intestine to slip through into the scrotum.
When an older child or adult develops a testicular hydrocele, it usually indicates an injury to the scrotum or an infection, Mayo Clinic says. It can also be a sign of an inguinal hernia when it appears this way. A testicular hydrocele in an older male requires further testing to ensure that treatment for an infection or hernia is not needed.