A hydrocele is a collection of fluid within the natural covering of the testicle. This layer is like a plastic bag that follows the testis into the scrotum in normal foetal development. Hydroceles can be present at birth because the 'plastic bag' (tunica vaginalis) doesn't close properly following the descent of the testis. However, usually they appear later in life because of irritation of the tunica. This can be caused by local trauma or infection. In the majority of men we do not know the cause.
Normally you only need to have your hydrocele repaired if you experience symptoms such as scrotal heaviness or fullness of the scrotum. In some men the hydrocele becomes large, like the size of an orange, and awkward. I will discuss the problems your hydrocele is causing with you and will help guide you as to whether surgery can help to correct the problem. The procedure is usually performed under a general anaesthetic and is a day case operation. The procedure itself takes about 30 minutes and is carried out through an incision in the scrotum. The fluid is drained and the sac repaired to prevent the fluid collecting there again. Absorbable stitch material is used.
If you do not feel significantly affected by your hydrocele, you could opt not to have surgery and take painkillers as and when you need them. You could also support your scrotum with tight-fitting underwear or a scrotal support (jock strap). I do not advise needle drainage of the fluid from the hydrocele as there is a risk of infection.