A varicocele is the enlargement of veins which is present in the loose bag of skin which holds your testicles. A varicocele is same as the varicose vein which you will see in your leg. Varicoceles are common because of the low sperm production and decreased sperm quality which can lead to infertility. Not all the varicoceles will affect the production of the sperm. Varicoceles can cause testicles to develop normally. Most varicoceles do develop with time. Basically, most of the varicoceles are easy to diagnose and you won’t need any treatment. If a varicocele causes symptoms, it can be treated surgically.
A varicocele will produce no symptoms. There is a rare chance that it will cause pain. The pain might:
- Vary from sharp to dull discomfort
- It worsens over the course of a day
- Impaired fertility
- It increases with standing exertion, over long periods
- Be relieved when you lie on your back
With time, varicocele causes no symptoms, it often requires no treatment. Varicoceles might get discovered during the fertility evaluation. If you experience pain in the scrotum, notice that your testicles are of different sizes or if you have developed a varicocele during your youth, you should contact your doctor. There are a number of conditions which can cause testicular pain, which might require immediate treatment.
The spermatic cord which carries blood from the testicles. This is not certain what causes varicoceles. There are many experts who believe varicocele forms when the valves inside the veins in the cord which prevent the blood from flowing properly. The resulting backup will cause the veins to widen. This might damage the testicle and it will result in worsened fertility. Varicoceles are formed during the puberty. Varicoceles occur on the left side, which is likely because of the position of the left testicular vein.
A varicocele can cause:
- Shrinkage of the affected testicle: Bulk of testicles consists of sperm-producing tubules. When damaged, from varicocele, the testicles shrink and softens. It’s not clear what causes the testicle to shrink but the malfunctioning valves allow the blood to pool in the veins which result in increased pressure in the veins and the exposure to toxins can cause testicular damage.
- Infertility: Varicoceles might keep the local temperature around the testicle too high, affecting the sperm formation, movement and function.
The doctor will conduct a physical exam, which might show a nontender mass above the testicle which feels like a bag full of worms. If this is large enough, the doctor will be able to feel it. If you are suffering from a small varicocele, the doctor might ask the patient to stand, take a deep breath. This will help the doctor to detect the abnormal enlargement of the veins. If the physical exam does not provide any conclusive evidence, the doctor might ask for a scrotal ultrasound. In this test, which uses high-frequency sound waves to generate precise images of the structures inside the body, is done to ensure there is no other reason for the symptoms. In some of the cases, imaging might be required to rule out other causes of the varicocele.
Varicocele treatment might not be necessary. Many men suffering from varicoceles can father a child without any treatment. If varicoceles cause the pain or infertility, if you are considering assisted reproductive techniques, you might go under varicocele repair. The purpose of the surgery is to seal the affected vein which will redirect the blood flow into the normal veins. In the case of male infertility, the treatment of varicocele can improve the quality of the sperm if Vitro fertilization techniques are used. Indications to repair a varicocele in adolescence include progressive testicular atrophy, abnormal semen analysis results. The treatment of a varicocele can improve sperm characteristics. There are few risks with varicocele repair, which include:
- Damage to artery
- Recurrence of varicoceles
- The buildup of fluid around testicles
The methods include:
Open surgery: This procedure is done on an outpatient basis, during anesthesia. The doctor will approach the vein via your groin, but it’s possible to make an incision in the abdomen. Advances in the varicocele repair lead to the reduction of post-surgical complications. One benefit is the use of the surgical microscope, which will help the surgeon to see the treatment area during the surgery. Doppler ultrasound is also used which will guide during the procedure.
Laparoscopic surgery: The surgeon will make a small incision in the abdomen and passes a tiny instrument via the incision to see and it will repair the varicocele.
Percutaneous embolization: The radiologist will insert a tube into the vein in your groin or neck via which the instruments can be passed. By viewing your enlarged veins on the monitor, the doctor releases a solution which causes scarring to create the blockage in testicular veins, which hampers the blood flow and it repairs the varicocele. The procedure isn’t widely used as the surgery.
Varicocele- Home remedies
If you have a varicocele, this will cause you minor discomfort but it does not affect your fertility, you can try the following for pain relief:
- Wear an athletic supporter which will relieve the pressure
- Take over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen