Around five percent of newborn boys develop a hydrocele — swelling in the scrotum. There is no specific cause, but hydroceles are seen most often in babies born prematurely. Hydroceles are similar to inguinal hernias and doctors may have difficulty diagnosing them. Physical examination will verify that the symptoms are not caused by a hernia or another condition. Older boys and men may also experience hydroceles due to trauma or other conditions. Although extremely rare, women can also develop a hydrocele in the groin area.
1. How Infant Hydroceles Form
During gestational development, a baby boy’s testicles form inside his abdomen. Around the seventh month of the pregnancy, the testicles begin to move down into the scrotum. As the testicles make their way to the scrotum, the lining of the abdominal cavity moves with them. This sac-like lining brings along fluids from the abdominal cavity, which eventually surrounds the testicles. In most cases, the sac closes before birth, preventing additional fluid. When it doesn’t, fluid accumulates and forms a hydrocele.