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Varicoceles and Hydroceles -- Causes
and Top 10 Remedies
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August 1, 2011, last updated February 22, 2013
By Michael Chang, Contributing Columnist

For men, any issues with their genitals can be blown to huge
proportions, even though the actual medical problems might not be as
grave as it might first appear. When men develop a hydrocele or
varicocele in their scrotum, they should quickly seek medical attention
to rule out other factors; however, the conditions are not fatal. While
not life-threatening, hydrocele and varicocele may cause some further
health complications and fertility issues later down the road. What is a
hydrocele or a variocele? Are varioceles and hydroceles serious health
conditions? Are there any natural remedies that help?

A hydrocele is a fluid-filled sac that surrounds a testicle, ultimately
resulting in the swelling of the scrotum. According to the Department of
Health Hospital Episode Statistics, approximately 43% of hospital
consultant episodes for hydrocele occurred in men from 15-59 years
old and 8 percent in men over 75 years old. Moreover, up to 10 % of
all male infants experience this condition in the genitals. However, most
cases clear up within the first year of life. Usually painless, most cases
of hydroceles  disappear on their own, although certain situations call
for further action.

A varicocele is an enlargement of the veins in the scrotum, similar to the
varicose veins that can develop on your legs. According to the Midwest
Center for Male Fertility, the medical condition is particularly common.
Approximately 15 percent of all men experience varicocele. A
surprisingly high percentage that experience these issues also see
fertility problems. Among those with varicocele, about 40 percent have
experiences fertility issues. (Read more about other
common causes of
male infertility such as laptops and soy food.)

Causes of Hydrocele

Baby boys usually develop hydrocele in the womb of their mothers.
When the testicles descend from the baby’s abdominal cavity, a sac
accompanies the testicle and fluid surrounds it. However, the sac
typically closes and the fluid is absorbed. In the case that it doesn’t, a
hydrocele forms, although it usually gets absorbed within the year.

Hydrocele are not exclusive in only male infants, in older males, the
fluid-filled sac develop due to an inflammation or injury in the scrotum.
Inflammation can occur from an infection at the back of each testicle.

Causes of Varicocele

When the spermatic cord that carried blood to and from testicles is
affected, a varicocele can develop. The valves inside the veins of the
cord prevent blood from flowing normally and the consequent backup
causes the varicocele to form. This medical condition tends to occur
among young men in theirs 20s or 30s. While some cases may be mild
and do no require any treatment, other cases may cause fertility
problems, pain, and testicular atrophy if you do not seek treatment.

Top 10 Remedies

Leave the Hydrocele or Varicocele Alone to Treat Itself

In the majority of these cases affecting your genitals, leaving it alone
will do the trick in ridding yourself of these problems. Unless you are
suffering from excessive pain from the fluid-filled sac or the enlarged
vein, you might want to let it heal on its own. For infants, the vast
majority of cases of hydrocele corrects itself and drains the fluid within
the baby’s first year of life.

Use Varicocele Repair Surgery to Eliminate the Affected Vein

If your varicocele causes pain, infertility problems, and testicular
atrophy, an option to correct the condition would be to undergo
varicocele repair through open surgery. These procedures are done
using anesthetic, approaching the vein through your groin, although
certain procedures involve incisions in abdomen or below the groin. It
presents limited and few risks, including buildup of fluid around the
testicles (hydrocele), damage to an artery, or resurgence of varicoceles
in the future.

Use Embolization Procedures to Repair the Varicocele

Embolization, while not as common due to the greater risks, remains an
option if you are looking to fix the varicocele in your genitals. The
procedure works like this: A radiologist inserts a tube into a vein in the
groin, and viewing the vein on the monitor, releases balloons to block
the vein. This will interrupt blood flow and consequently, repair the
varicocele. Sounds complicated and painful, so unless you are suffering
from the varicocele and this is the best option to eliminate the enlarged
vein in your genitals, you might opt for other choices.

Eliminate Processed Foods to Treat Your Varicocele Problems

You are what you eat, so they say. Your diet is an immensely important
part of your health and thus, you should eliminate foods that can cause
or worsen your varicocele formation. Low fiber, high processed diet,
including white flour goods and sugar contributes to slow bowel
movements that forces drying of stools.

According to a 2010 University of Michigan study, processed foods that
have had the dietary fiber taken out of them will cause difficult and
infrequent bowel movements. The consequent constipation puts more
pressure on the veins with you use the restroom and thus, by
worsening the varicocele. Eliminate these foods from your diet and you
will prevent or ease the varicocele.

Include Flavonoids in a Whole Food Diet to Relieve Varicocele

Certain foods help with different body functions. Vitamin D enhances
the skin. Calcium is good for the bones. And flavonoids contributes to
blood vessel health. Incorporating foods rich with flavonoids, such as
fresh vegetables and fruits, can be a great way to prevent or relieve the
symptoms of varicocele. According to a 2000 British Journal of Surgery
study, flavonoids act to increase venous tone, strengthening the walls
of veins, and thereby, making them less susceptible to varicosity.

Moreover, maintaining a “whole foods” diet will improve your overall
health and thereby, help you relieve your varicocele. So, choose whole
grains, fish and poultry, flax seed, fish oil, and other organically grown
foods over processed foods!

Use Herbal Remedies to Treat Varicoceles

Natural herbal remedies can also be employed to help treat your

According  to a 2007 New York University study, taking butcher’s
broom, or ruscus aculeatus, can help reduce the swelling of the vein
that causes varicocele. Similarly, this herb can be also used to treat
varicose veins in your legs, a similar medical condition to varicocele.
Other useful herbal remedies that can help tone and strengthen your
veins are horse chestnut and bilberry.

Water Treatments Can Help Hydroceles

Because a hydrocele is just fluid that collects in a sac around the
testicle, the only serious medical issue when you feel that lump is that it
might be malicious and cancerous. If not, the vast majority of
hydrocele cases tend to clear up on their own. However, you can use
water treatments to help cure the issue. For instance, using cold hip
baths twice daily for approximately ten minutes each, using cold water
and keeping the legs out of the tub.

Hot Epsom salt baths can also be particularly beneficial in treating a
hydrocele and can be used once or twice weekly.

Avoid Excessive Straining to Prevent Worsening Hydrocele

When left alone, the hydrocele can be left to resolve itself; however, if
it is too painful, you may want to relieve the pain through other ways.
You definitely do not want to worsen the condition. One way to ensure
that you don’t worsen the issue is by avoiding activities that might
result in extra strain or stress on the hydrocele. This includes heavy
exercise and heavy lifting.

Relieve Your Constipation to Prevent Pressure that Worsens

Constipation can cause unnecessary and excessive intra-abdominal
pressure that can worsen the hydrocele, causing you more pain. If you
have a case of constipation, you can take steps to relieve the excessive
strain needed for bowel movements by following a high-fiber diet.
Incorporate fresh fruit, raw vegetables, and whole grains to ensure
easy bowel movements and less strain on the hydrocele.

Surgically Remove the Fluid from the Hydrocele

As a last resort, you can opt to surgically remove the fluid from the sac
through a method called tapping. While this is an extreme method that
should be only used with painful cases, it does not cure the cause of
the problem, but merely the effects. It does, however, absorb the fluid
and relieve the painful symptoms.


Horse Chestnut Extract Can Help Heal Varicoceles

A natural remedy effective in treating varicose veins has been found to
be also effective in improving sperm quality in men with varicoceles.
Aescin, also spelled escin,, is the active ingredient in horse chestnuts
which numerous studies have found is effective in healping to heal
spider veins and varicose veins. Since varicoceles are enlarged veins in
a man's scrotum similar to varicose veins, it should come as no surprise
that horse chestnut extract would be helpful in healing this condition
also. In fact, a 2010 study from the University of Missouri has
discovered that men treated with horse chestnut extract saw a marked
improvement in their sperm quality after treatment. The study, entitled
"Escin improves sperm quality in male patients with varicocele-
associated infertility" examined 219 men with infertility related to

While this study is encouraging, more studies with larger samples of
men need to be completed to give us more confidence in this natural
remedy for varicoceles.  On the positive side, since ether do not appear
to be any known side effects from using horse chestnut extract, trying
a horse chestnut gel seems to have no apparent downsides.]

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