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My baby's testicles are swollen – what's going on?
If your baby's testicles are swollen just after birth, it's most likely because of the extra fluid newborns carry or the extra dose of hormones he may have received from you just before birth. This swelling is harmless, and he'll flush the fluid out in his pee after a few days. If the swelling continues, particularly if your son has only one swollen testicle, your baby may have developed a hydrocele, in which fluid from the abdomen accumulates in a testicle, or possibly an inguinal hernia, in which a loop of the intestine pokes down into the testicle.
What does it mean if one of my baby's testicles is swollen?
He probably has a hydrocele (pronounced hydroseal). A boy's testicles develop inside of his abdomen while he's in the womb, and then sometime before birth they usually push through a tunnel in the tissue between the groin and the abdomen and descend into the scrotal sac. At that point, the passage through the abdominal wall should close up. If it remains open, as it does in up to 50 percent of newborn boys, fluid may accumulate around the testicle and cause swelling. This round, soft area of swelling, called a hydrocele, shouldn't bother your baby and will probably go away by the time he turns 1. If it doesn't go away by his first birthday, he may need minor surgery to drain the fluid and close the opening.
What is this hard lump that bulges out of my son's testicle when he cries?
It's most likely an inguinal hernia, so you should get it checked out by a doctor. About 4 percent of boys (and up to 30 percent of premature babies), are born with an opening in their abdominal wall large enough to allow a loop of their intestines to poke through into the genital area. The loop creates a firm, oblong lump about the size of your thumb in your baby's scrotum (the loose sac of skin beneath the penis that contains the testicles). This lump is called an inguinal hernia. It may disappear back into the abdomen when your baby is relaxed and then bulge out again when he's active or crying. Your baby will need minor surgery to repair the hernia, but it is not an emergency unless you notice that the swelling has suddenly gotten larger, harder, or darker, or if your baby is vomiting or in pain. This may mean that the loop of intestine has become trapped in the scrotum and thus cut off from its blood supply. If this is the problem, your baby will need immediate surgery to prevent damage to the intestines.