Posts Tagged ‘testes’

Big Ball Series: What You Need to Know About Spermatoceles

November 3, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD 11/3/2018

This is a continuation of the “Big Ball” series of entries, which provide information about common maladies that affect the contents of the scrotum.  The previous entry was on hydroceles and next week will cover epididymitis. 


A. epididymal head, B. body, C. tail, D. vas deferens (sperm duct)                             Attribution: By KDS444 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, from Wikimedia Commons  

A spermatocele (“spermato” = sperm + “cele” = sac) is a benign cystic enlargement within the scrotum that results from a partial obstruction of the tubular system of the epididymis.   The epididymis is the comet-shaped organ located above and behind each testicle that consists of multiple tiny twisted tubules. The epididymis is the site where sperm cells mature and are stored until the time of sexual climax when they move from the epididymis into the vas deferens (sperm duct).     

Spermatoceles typically arise from the head of the epididymis and are found to contain sperm, hence the name.  They can vary greatly in size, ranging from a pea-size lump that does not cause any symptoms to a grapefruit-size enlargement that causes annoying symptoms.  Many men with spermatoceles often present to the urologist with the complaint of “growing a third testicle.”  They are evaluated by physical examination where they are found to be smooth, soft and regular masses typically located above the testicle.  They are often further characterized by scrotal ultrasonography that provides detailed anatomical imaging of the testes and epididymis and can differentiate a spermatocele from other causes of scrotal enlargement such as a hydrocele. However, an epididymal cyst may be impossible to distinguish from a spermatocele, the only difference being that an epididymal cyst does not contain sperm as does a spermatocele. 


Ultrasound image of spermatocele,  public domain (spermatocele on left immediately adjacent to testes on right)

The majority of spermatoceles arise from the epididymal head, although they can arise from the body or tail. Many spermatoceles are not symptomatic, causing only a painless enlargement or are discovered on a routine physical exam or incidentally on a scrotal ultrasound done for another reason.  Larger spermatoceles can cause an uncomfortable dragging sensation, particularly while sitting or driving. Most small and moderate-size spermatoceles can be managed simply by careful periodic observation to ensure that they do not continue to enlarge or cause progressive symptoms. When a spermatocele progresses to the point where it causes discomfort, pain, or deformity, it can be repaired by a relatively simple surgical procedure performed on an outpatient basis.  The incision is typically through the midline “seam” of the scrotum; the involved testicle is delivered through the incision, the epididymis is exposed and the spermatocele is carefully excised, after which the scrotal contents are repositioned and the scrotal wall is closed.  This procedure is a highly successful means of treatment of the spermatocele.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a physician and urological surgeon who is board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community.

Dr. Siegel has authored the following books that are available on Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo:

MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

PROMISCUOUS EATING: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food


These books are written for educated and discerning men and women who care about health, well-being, fitness and nutrition and enjoy feeling confident and strong.

Dr. Siegel is co-creator of the male pelvic floor exercise instructional DVD (female version is in the works): PelvicRx

New video on female pelvic floor exercises:  Learn about your pelvic floor