A spermatocele is a common growth that develops above or behind your testicle. They’re benign (not cancer). You may not have any symptoms or notice a spermatocele. Healthcare providers usually only treat it when a large spermatocele hurts or bothers you.


A spermatocele grows along your epididymis, above or behind your testicle.
A spermatocele develops along your epididymis, above or behind your testicle. It usually contains a clear or cloudy fluid, which may contain sperm.

What is a spermatocele?

A spermatocele is a fluid-filled growth (cyst) that develops from your epididymis. Your epididymis is a tube that runs behind and over the top of each testicle. Its main job is to store and transport sperm. Sperm are male reproductive cells.

Spermatoceles can develop above or behind your testicles (testes). Inside each spermatocele is a clear or cloudy fluid that may contain sperm.

Other names for spermatoceles include spermatic cysts or epididymal cysts.

Spermatoceles don’t typically hurt, so you may not notice a lump right away. Even if there isn’t pain, it can be scary to notice a lump around your testicle. Talk to a healthcare provider if you notice changes to your testicles. Talking to a healthcare provider about any changes to your testicles is the first step in getting an official spermatocele diagnosis and soothing any frightening thoughts or feelings.

How common are spermatoceles?

Spermatoceles are fairly common. They affect nearly 1 in 3 adult men or people assigned male at birth (AMAB).


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Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of a spermatocele?

Smaller spermatoceles usually cause few or no symptoms. They may not bother you at all. Depending on the size, larger spermatoceles may cause mild to moderate symptoms, including:

  • Dull testicular pain or aching in your scrotum.
  • Scrotal swelling.
  • A feeling of heaviness in your scrotum.

What does a spermatocele look like?

Spermatoceles vary in size. They may look like:

  • Nothing. Some spermatoceles are too tiny to see or feel. Healthcare providers can only detect them with imaging tests, such as an ultrasound.
  • A pea-sized lump. Many spermatoceles look like a small lump that sits right above or behind a testicle. Most have a shape and size similar to a pea.
  • A large growth. Spermatoceles can sometimes be large. A large spermatocele may appear as though you have a third testicle.

Is a spermatocele hard or soft?

Spermatoceles feel like a smooth, hard lump.

What causes spermatoceles?

Spermatoceles occur when sperm builds up somewhere in the epididymis. Healthcare providers don’t fully understand what causes sperm to build up. Some experts believe that a blockage in the epididymal duct or inflammation may be potential causes.

In many cases, spermatoceles appear without any sign of injury, bacterial infection or other obvious cause.

Is a spermatocele contagious?

No, a spermatocele isn’t a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and it isn’t contagious. If you have a spermatocele, you can’t give it to another person.

Who do spermatoceles affect?

Spermatoceles can affect anyone with testicles at any age. But they most commonly appear in midlife (40s or 50s).


Does ejaculating make a spermatocele worse?

No, ejaculating won’t make a spermatocele increase in size.

Diagnosis and Tests

How are spermatoceles diagnosed?

Spermatoceles usually don’t cause any symptoms. A healthcare provider typically detects a spermatocele during a routine physical examination or medical test for another issue. Some people discover a spermatocele while performing a testicular self-exam.

What tests will be done to diagnose a spermatocele?

A healthcare provider may perform or order tests during or after a physical exam. These tests can reveal more about a testicular lump or rule out other testicular disorders:

  • Transillumination: A provider will shine a light on your lump. Unlike solid growths, spermatoceles look partly see-through (translucent).
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound is a type of noninvasive imaging test. It uses sound waves to look at the fine details of testicular cysts.
  • Lab tests: A provider may recommend a urine test (urinalysis or testing to rule out a sexually transmitted infection) if you have testicular pain. These tests help determine if you have an infection or inflammation.


Management and Treatment

Will a spermatocele go away?

Spermatoceles won’t likely go away without treatment.

How do you get rid of a spermatocele?

Most spermatoceles remain small in size and cause few or no symptoms. You don’t need treatment if a spermatocele doesn’t cause pain or discomfort.

If you have long-term pain or discomfort, a provider may recommend surgery to get rid of a spermatocele.

Who performs spermatocele surgery?

A healthcare provider who specializes in conditions that affect your urinary system and reproductive system (urologist) performs surgery to remove a spermatocele (spermatocelectomy). Sometimes, the procedure may require your urologist to remove part or all of the epididymis (epididymectomy).

What should I know about spermatocele removal?

A spermatocelectomy is an outpatient procedure. That means you can go home after surgery instead of staying in the hospital for a day or more.

During a spermatocelectomy, your surgeon makes a cut (incision) in your scrotum or groin area. They’ll access and remove the spermatocele from this incision.

An anesthesiologist may use local or general anesthesia. Local anesthesia numbs the general area and keeps you comfortable as you lie awake for the procedure. If you receive general anesthesia, you won’t be awake or feel any pain during the procedure.

In general, a spermatocelectomy is a safe, routine procedure that should improve your spermatocele symptoms.

How long does a spermatocele last for?

Spermatoceles usually don’t go away on their own without treatment.


Can spermatoceles be prevented?

No, you can’t do anything to lower your risk of developing a spermatocele. But for many people who have spermatoceles, the cysts don’t cause any problematic symptoms.

Outlook / Prognosis

What can I expect if I have a spermatocele?

Spermatoceles are a pretty common condition. They usually cause few or no symptoms. They usually don’t cause further health issues or pose a serious threat. Many times, people don’t know they have a spermatocele because they don’t realize it’s there, so healthcare providers don’t check for them.

Larger spermatoceles may be painful or uncomfortable. In these cases, a spermatocelectomy may provide relief.

Can a spermatocele turn into cancer?

No. Spermatoceles are benign (noncancerous) cysts, which means they aren’t cancerous. There isn’t any evidence to suggest spermatoceles can turn into cancer. And having a spermatocele doesn’t increase your risk of developing testicular cancer.

Can spermatoceles cause infertility?

No, spermatoceles don’t cause male infertility. However, surgery can cause blockage of your epididymis, which could affect your fertility. If you’re concerned, talk to a healthcare provider. They can explain your treatment options, including how therapies may affect your ability to have biological children.

When can I go back to work or school after a spermatocelectomy?

Your affected areas need time to heal after a spermatocelectomy. It’s a good idea to take at least three to four days off from work or school. You may need to take more time off if you have a physically demanding job.

Living With

When should I see my healthcare provider?

Call a healthcare provider if you:

  • Notice a lump above or behind your testicles.
  • Have swelling in your scrotum.
  • Feel heaviness in your scrotum.
  • Have pain.

When should I go to ER?

Go to the nearest emergency room if you have worsening testicular pain and swelling that comes on suddenly with no apparent cause.

What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?

  • How do you know that I have a spermatocele?
  • If I don’t have a spermatocele, what other condition do I have?
  • Do I need to see a specialist about my spermatocele?
  • How can I stay comfortable if I have symptoms?
  • When should I return for a checkup?

Additional Common Questions

What is the difference between a spermatocele and a hydrocele?

A hydrocele is benign fluid that fills the sac in which the testicle sits in your scrotum. In most cases, hydroceles aren’t serious or painful. It’s possible for them to remain stable for many years. But sometimes, they’re large and require treatment.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Spermatoceles are common, usually painless testicular cysts that tend to affect people in midlife. But noticing a lump near your testicle can be unnerving. It’s a good idea to reach out to a provider. They can perform an evaluation and provide answers and set your mind at ease. You likely won’t need treatment if a spermatocele doesn’t bother you.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 06/21/2023.

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