Varicocele: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Varicocele

A lot of men have this “bag of worms” in their testicles known as a Varicocele but they don’t know until it has caused a lot of damage.

VARICOCELE is the most common cause of reduced fertility in many young men and most people with this condition would show no symptoms. It is a cause of infertility in about 4 out of every 10 men that have infertility problems.

Table of Content

What is Varicocele?

Varicocele also known as Scrotum Varicose veins, simply means an enlargement or dilation of the veins within the scrotum known as the Pampiniform Plexus. It is similar to a varicose vein you might notice in your leg, especially the back of your knee.
In this condition, the veins that is supposed to collect used blood and waste products from the testes and take them back to the heart is enlarged, hence these waste products remain and can cause damage to the sperm that is formed in the testes.

In addition to these, these accumulation of blood raises the temperature of the testis which further damages the sperm cells and results in what we call the OAT syndrome (OligoAsthenoTeratozoospermia).
In simple terms, this means that; the sperm count is reduced, the sperms cannot move well and they appear abnormal in shape.

What is the Cause of Varicocele

The main reason for the formation of a Varicocele is due to a problem with the valves that are usually found in veins. Movement of blood in the veins is in one direction, from the testis (which is lower down), to the heart (which is higher up in the chest) and these valves help to prevent blood from flowing backwards. When these valves fail, it causes this veins to dilate & blood accumulates.

Symptoms of Varicocele

Most times, people with this condition would not show any symptoms. If the symptoms do appear, they include;

  • Visible Scrotal veins (like bag of worms)
  • Pain
  • scrotal swelling (usually more common on the left side)
varicocele
Note the dilated scrotal veins, indicated by the White Arrows. Image Credits: New England Journal of Medicine

Treatment for Varicocele

Most times, people with this condition do not require treatment.
Treatment is only for those who have;

There are no drugs to prevent or treat Varicoceles. Surgery is the main form of treatment and there are different available options. They can be: microscopic varicoselectomy or laparoscopic varicoselectomy.

During surgery, what the Doctor needs to do is ligate those dilated & tortuous veins and give the testes a chance to breathe fresh air and produce better sperm cells.

How Long Does Surgery for Varicocele Takes?

Surgery for Varicocele takes just about 30 minutes to 3 hours to be done, depending on the procedure used, either microscopic or laparoscopic varicoselectomy. The person is also discharged to go home the same day. Your doctor would explain more on the treatment options to you.

How long does it take to Heal after a Varicocele surgery?

Healing after surgery does not take much time. You can even return to work within a week. You should avoid exercise for at least 2 weeks.

How Long after Varicocele Surgery before Seminal Fluid Analysis?

For those with fertility problems, Seminal Fluid Analysis is done after 3-4 months time.

So if you are a man, kindly touch your scrotum and see if you feel something that feels like a “bag of worm” as it is called. Save your sperm cells today, save your generation. Seek help on time before it becomes too late.

Feel free to ask any questions you might have below.

Authors

  • Dr Njeakor Henry Ifeanyi is a a Consultant Urological Surgeon with passion for Men's Health and Reproductive well-being. Dr Njeakor Henry Ifeanyi holds an MBBS Degree from the University of Ilorin, in Kwara State Nigeria and is also a Fellow of the West African College of Surgeons (FWACS). You can follow Dr. Njeakor Henry Ifeanyi on twitter at: @osheguy.

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