Common Male Disorders
A spermatocele, also known as a spermatic cyst, is a benign growth that develops on the epididymis, the coiled tube located on the upper side of the testicle that stores sperm. Most spermatoceles are small and contain a milky fluid that may or may not contain sperm.
The specific cause of a spermatocele is unknown, although it may develop from a blockage within the tubes that drain sperm into the epididymis. This condition is most common in men between the ages of 40 and 60 and affects up to three out of every 10 men in the US.
Most men who develop spermatoceles do not experience any symptoms. Some patients may experience heaviness or pain within the scrotum. Most spermatoceles are discovered during a self-examination of the testicles or during a routine doctor's exam.
Since most spermatoceles do not cause any symptoms or harm, they do not usually require treatment. Those that cause pain or discomfort can often be relieved with anti-inflammatory medication or oral analgesics. Removal of spermatoceles must be done through a surgical procedure that is performed on an outpatient basis under local or general anesthesia. Sclerotherapy may also be used to drain fluid from the cyst and turn it into scar tissue.
Urethral stricture is a narrowing of the urethra, the tube responsible for carrying urine out of the bladder. This narrowing can severely restrict the urine flow from the bladder, blocking it completely in some cases. Urethral stricture occurs more commonly in men, as they have a longer urethra than women.
Causes of Urethral Stricture
Urethral stricture can be caused by a variety of factors, including sexually transmitted diseases, urethral or prostate cancer, prostate removal surgery, pelvic fracture, and extended use of a urethral catheter.
Symptoms of Urethral Stricture
A common symptom of urethral stricture is a sudden slowing of the urine stream. Other symptoms may include frequent urination, swollen penis, pelvic pain, painful urination, and urine leakage after urination. If left untreated, a urethral stricture can cause infections to the prostate, bladder, and/or kidneys, potentially causing kidney failure. It is therefore important for patients to seek prompt medical attention upon experiencing these symptoms.
To diagnose urethral stricture, your doctor will perform a physical examination and review your medical history. Additional tests are usually performed, including urinalysis, pelvic ultrasound, cystoscopy, and uroflowmeter. A series of tests are necessary to rule out other conditions and be sure that urethral stricture is the cause of your symptoms.
Treatment for Urethral Stricture
Urethral stricture only requires treatment if symptoms are noticeable. Immediate treatment is necessary for urethral strictures causing pain or blocking the urine flow. In mild cases, a catheter may be used to open the urethra and correct the stricture. More severe cases may require a surgical reconstruction of the urethra.
A varicocele is a form of varicose veins specific to the male scrotum. The vein responsible for draining the testes is prone to becoming enlarged due to failure of the valves within it. This is a relatively common condition, occurring in about 15 to 20% of all males and most often affecting the left testicle. The most frequent symptoms of a varicocele are:
- Noticeable enlarged vein (often quoted as feeling like a bag of worms)
- Weighty feeling in the testicles
- Atrophy (shrinking) of testicles
Generally, the varicocele is diagnosed by palpating (feeling) the scrotum, although it is usually confirmed using ultrasound techniques. Although normally harmless, a varicocele is capable of causing infertility due to the backup of blood increasing the internal temperature of the scrotum. The sperm need much lower internal temperature to mature correctly, lower than body temperature, and will develop poorly or slowly if the scrotum is too warm.
Treatment for a varicocele can be as simple as choosing to wear a jock strap or snug underwear. If the relatively efficient method of changing one's undergarment preference is not sufficient in reducing discomfort, a surgical procedure known as varicocelectomy may be performed. This operation primarily targets the enlarged vein, which is tied off to prevent blood flow to it.
An alternative to surgery is embolization, a minimally invasive procedure in which a catheter is passed through a larger bodily vein and directed through the circulatory system to the abnormal vein. A constricting mechanism or medication is then passed through the catheter to lock off the vein from blood flow, accomplishing the same goal as conventional surgery.