Varicocele Full Guide

What is a varicocele?

A varicocele is a collection of swollen and enlarged pampiniform plexus of veins in a man’s scrotum. The pampiniform plexus is a network of many small veins in the spermatic cord. A varicocele is similar to a varicose vein in the leg and occurs most often in the left scrotum. It rarely develops on the right side. The left spermatic vein is one of the longest veins in the body. The increased pressure in the left spermatic vein can cause the vein to dilate or enlarge. Then the valves present in the pampiniform plexus of spermatic veins do not close completely and cause the blood to flow back toward the testis. This leads to the condition known as varicocele

Can a man with varicocele get a woman pregnant?

Many doctors believe that varicoceles can affect fertility and sperm quality in men. If men with a palpable varicocele and poor sperm quality undergo proper treatment, then the probability increases that their partner will become pregnant. Most couples who are trying for a baby will succeed within 2 years.

You are thinking about repairing of varicocele for fertility reasons. How long will you have to wait to see if semen quality improves?

Semen quality often improves within six months, but it can also take as long as a whole year. Semen analysis is often done 3-4 months after the repairing procedure.

What percentage of men have varicocele? Is varicocele normal?

What is the prevalence of varicocele? Why I am suffering from varicocele?

Varicoceles are quite common. Approximately 10% to 15% of all men are affected by varicoceles. While the incidence of varicoceles increases up to 30% among infertile couples. Annually about 70-80,000 men in the USA may undergo surgical correction of varicocele. They generally first appear at puberty and may get bigger with time. It highly occurs in men aged 15-35 years.

What are the symptoms of a varicocele?

Symptoms of varicocele

Many men have no symptoms, but some may have fertility issues. Here are a few possible symptoms:

Decreased fertility

A large number of infertile men are found to have a varicocele. Men with varicoceles have a higher risk of infertility.

Shrinking of the testicle or Testicular atrophy

Increase in temperature of the scrotum in varicocele patients may cause cellular death of the testes. This condition leads to the shrinking of tests.

Dull aching in the left scrotum

The pain is noticeable while standing and relieved when laying down.

Can I run with varicocele?

Running with Varicoceles may cause pain in the testicles. Running causes the clenching of muscles which may result in blood flow backing up and enlarging the varicocele.

Can varicocele cause a lump on the testicle?

Varicoceles usually develop as a soft lump in the scrotum and may feel like a “bag of worms”.

What happens if a varicocele is left untreated? What will happen if I choose not to be treated?

If left untreated a varicocele may cause the following problems:

  1. Difficulty in fathering children/ Infertility
  2. The quality of sperms may decrease
  3. Shrinkage of the affected testicle
  4. Problems in sperm production
  5. Varicoceles may affect the motility of sperms
  6. Cellular death of the testis
  7. Malfunctioning of testicle
  8. Testicular atrophy
  9. Discomfort

Can varicocele cause erectile dysfunction? Is a varicocele serious?

Varicoceles are not usually serious, but if not treated may cause fertility problems.

They are not usually painful but may also cause serious complications.

A study shows that varicoceles are associated with a significant increase in serum levels of FSH and LH, which may lead to male infertility and erectile dysfunction. Bilateral varicocele (grade 3) is linked to a significant reduction in testicular function.

Can varicocele cause death?

Varicoceles increase the temperature of the scrotum which leads to the cellular death of the testis. This condition shrinks the testicles.

You have no symptoms, but wish to have children. Should you have your varicocele repaired?

Most doctors do not believe these varicoceles cause health problems if not treated. Varicoceles with no symptoms are not repaired. But if you are facing fertility issues, a semen analysis can be done to see the harmful effects of varicocele on sperm quality.

Why are varicoceles more noticeable when you stand up?

During straining, coughing, or standing up, there is a slight fullness in the scrotum. Gravity and increased pressure from straining can cause the blood in the scrotal veins to pool so varicoceles are typically more noticeable. The varicocele is undetectable while lying down. 

The major cause of varicocele

Why do varicoceles happen? What are the main causes of varicoceles?

What is the major cause of varicocele? Why do varicoceles happen?

The exact cause of varicoceles is not known. However, it is believed that a varicocele develops when the valves inside the veins in the spermatic cord affect the normal flow of blood. The cause of this condition is unknown but it is similar to what happens when varicose veins occur in the leg.

The blood accumulates rather than moving smoothly. This build-up of blood causes the vessels to dilate (widen). This disrupts the blood flow and any disruption in blood flow can eventually stop an organ from working properly. This might result in worsened fertility after causing damage to the testicle.

Is varicocele genetic?

Varicocele has hereditary behavior. It is more prevalent in the first-degree relatives of men with known varicoceles.

Can heavy lifting cause varicocele?

Heavy lifting may develop a varicocele. It may also aggravate symptoms of varicoceles. Heavy weight lifting may cause pain due to the pressure that builds upon the affected veins.

What are the risk factors associated with varicocele?

Risk factors of varicocele

There are no particular risk factors known for varicoceles. Anyhow some of the following risk factors may be associated with varicoceles:

  1. Varicoceles are most likely to appear during puberty.
  2. Being overweight may reduce the risk.
  3. Taller people are at a greater risk.
  4. In men aged above 40, varicoceles develop more likely due to a blockage in a larger vein in the abdominal area, possibly as a result of a kidney tumor.
  5. It was believed that after fathering a child, men are unlikely to be infertile, but in 1993, researchers concluded that this was probably untrue. The risk of infertility may increase over time.

What can you do to ease the pain caused by varicocele?

  • (1) Consult your urologist about varicocele repair
  • (2) Lying on your back helps the varicocele drain
  • (3) Take pain killers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen
  • (4) Use briefs-style underwear
  • (5) Support the scrotum with a jockstrap

Can a varicocele burst?

Rarely varicocele ruptures. However, if it bursts spontaneously then it results in an acute scrotal hematoma. If there is a sudden increase in abdominal pressure, then it causes pressure in the veins to rise thus resulting in the form of a varicocele.

What does varicocele pain feel like?

Varicocele pain may be achy, congestive, a “heaviness” or just increased sensitivity. There is usually no pain in the groin area. The scrotal skin does not hurt anyhow pain is usually felt in the “nut,” around it, or above it.

Why varicocele is common on the left side?

The anatomy of the male body is designed so that blood flow on the left side of the scrotum is greater so varicoceles happen mostly on the left side of the scrotum. Varicoceles can sometimes happen on both sides but it is rare however mostly it happens more often in the left testicle than the right.

Is a right-sided varicocele dangerous?

Varicocele is not dangerous but sometimes it can lead to deadly situations such as if a particular mass, growth, or any abnormality in the abdomen might be causing it. If a varicocele forms on the right side, it is important to test for unusual conditions. It is better to consult your urologist immediately.

Does varicocele affect testosterone levels?

Varicoceles may affect the production of testosterone. It is an important hormone that is related to men’s health. Varicoceles have been associated with infertility in men.

Do varicoceles damage testicles?

Varicoceles may cause damage to the testicles and it may get worse over time. This damage is progressive. Your testis may not grow appropriately. Varicocele causes male infertility.

Can varicocele go away on its own? Can varicocele cure itself?

Most varicoceles need no special treatment. A varicocele is usually harmless however it will not go away on its own. Most people with varicoceles have no symptoms. But if there is any pain or swelling, anti-inflammatory medicine can relieve the pain. But you must contact your doctor for the prescription of medicines.

What? I have valves in my veins?  

Veins, or blood vessels, have valves that act like gates opening in one direction. When activated, these valves allow blood through them. Then shut it close to prevent the backflow of blood. If valves do not close, blood can pool and cause a varicose vein.

I found a lump on my scrotum during a self-exam. Should I worry?

Mostly these lumps or bumps are not dangerous. They are not deadly. But if you feel some pain or abnormal behavior in their growth, then you must worry and consult a doctor. One type of mass may be testicular cancer. It’s better to contact a doctor when you find any masses or lumps in your testicle.

Varicocele Treatment

What is the natural treatment to cure varicocele?

Wearing supportive underwear may help reduce any pain. Various alternative therapies are also available on sale for treating low sperm count.

Can varicocele be treated with medication?

There are no particular medications to prevent or cure varicoceles. There are two possible treatment options. Surgery is the main choice of treatment. Another option is a non-surgical treatment that briefly blocks the veins. This process is known as Embolization. Pain killers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help relieve pain.

Does exercise help varicocele?

Walking and exercising your calf muscles may prevent the formation of blood clots in the leg veins. Exercise helps relieve varicocele. When you are reclining or lying down, exercise both calf muscles every hour.

What is the home remedy for varicocele? Can horse chestnuts cure varicocele?

If your varicocele is not serious or painful, then you can follow these:

Take painkillers, like acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB)

Wear an athletic supporter to relieve pressure.

Horse chestnut seed has anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces inflammation and swelling in the affected veins. Horse chestnut seed extract may relieve symptoms of hemorrhoids.

Can a varicocele get worse?

Mostly, varicoceles cause no problems and are harmless. About 10 to 15% of men out of 100 have a varicocele. Less often varicoceles may cause pain, problems fathering a child, or one testicle growing slower or shrinking.

Can a varicocele come back after treatment?

Varicoceles can return in about 5-10% of cases that undergo varicocele embolization.

Does varicocele affect puberty?

The varicocele may affect hormonal balance in the testicle and the delivery of oxygen. The varicocele can affect testicular growth during adolescence. However, the varicocele does not affect erections, libido, virility, penile size, or pubertal development.

Define the classification of varicocele?

Varicoceles can be classified as:

Pressure type: The spermatic vein fills up with blood. This condition develops grade I varicocele.

Shunt type: A severe buildup causes damage to the spermatic vein and other veins. This condition causes a larger, grade II or III varicocele.

Is varicocele treatable? How Are Varicoceles Treated?

Varicoceles are treatable. Varicocele surgery improves sperm counts. Varicocele causes decrease infertility in males.

Leave a Comment