Varicocele – treatment, symptoms, diagnosis, causes

Varicocele is the enlargement of veins within the scrotum. This condition can affect sperm production by decreasing its quality and lowering its production.

varicocele - treatment and symptoms

The scrotum is the loose skin that covers the testes

Causes of varicocele

The exact causes of varicocele are not known. Even the risk factors have not been identified so far.

 Though, some clinicians have associated it to develop over time due to defection in the way blood moves through the veins.

The veins in the scrotum can offer resistance to blood flow thus causing it to pile over time. This eventually causes the veins to enlarge.

Symptoms of Varicocele

Varicocele can show no symptoms, but victims can experience any of the following;

  • Swelling in the scrotum
  • A lump in the testicle – usually in one of the affected testicles
  • Enlarged veins in the scrotum that are visible with a naked eye
  • One enlarged testicle than the other
  • An uncomfortable, dull pain in the scrotum – The pain is very mild
  • Pain increase when standing or walking but when sitting pain decreases

Possible complications

There are two main complications that can be caused by varicocele, though they are rare;

  • A decline in testosterone levels – Varicocele can lead to a slight decline in testosterone levels. This will last only before treatment is administered but after treatment, the victim will start producing normal levels of testosterone hormone again.
  • Infertility – Prolonged decreased production of testosterone hormones can eventually lead to infertility but appropriate treatment procedure can normalize everything.


The diagnosis of varicocele involves a physical exam. The urologist will have to examine your testicles to find out if there is any swelling or a lump in it. They can also use ultrasound but this is in rare situations.

Treatment of varicocele

Varicocele treatment drugs are not available but some urologists can prescribe pain killers to cool down the pain. Some men don’t even need treatment procedures because they can just father children as expected and do sexual intercourse normally.

Urologists always prefer treatment on patients with this condition if;

  • The varicose is causing pain
  • Infertility has occurred due to varicocele
  • Varicocele has caused testicular atrophy

Some of the further methods that can be recommended are;

  • Microsurgical subinguinal varicocelectomy – This has been considered the most successful surgery for the treatment of varicocele conditions. This surgery is done on an outpatient basis and the patient is put under anesthesia. The surgeon will go through your abdomen or groin. Victims who undergo this procedure usually return to normal after two days but cannot involve themselves in strenuous exercises. The urologist can also advise abstinence from sex for some time to allow proper healing and sperm quality to come back to normal. This surgical operation has mild pain which can last for several days or weeks.
  • Laparoscopic surgery – This surgery is performed using a thin, lighted tube. The surgeon will approach the veins through the abdomen or pelvis and then tie the defective veins and allow blood to flow through the normal veins only. During this procedure, the patient is under anesthesia.
  • Varicocele embolization – This treatment procedure is rarely used and it is done on an outpatient basis. A urologist inserts a tube into the vein in the neck or groin. A coil is then inserted to block the defective veins and blood doesn’t flow to them again.

Disadvantages of varicocele surgery

The disadvantages of surgery as a method of treating varicocele are;

  • Potential of the condition reoccurring
  • Risk of secondary infection
  • Pain
  • Risk of interfering with other organs
  • Scarring possibility

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Expert Q&A

Can you have a baby with varicocele?

YES, most men with varicose condition engage in sexual intercourse without any problem and their sperms are also strong enough to cause pregnancy. It’s only under minimal circumstances that varicocele can lead to infertility and poor sperm quality.

What is the home remedy for varicocele?

Natural management measures of varicocele are;

  • Consistent easy-to-do pelvic exercises
  • Avoiding some of the activities that you know cause discomfort whenever you do them
  • Healthy dietary plan

Is varicocele surgery necessary?

Surgery as a method of treating varicocele is not a must. It can only be preferred if the condition causes infertility, pain or the person volunteers to undergo it in order to avoid doubts of recovering.

Is varicocele life-threatening?

Varicocele is not life-threatening as long as it is under control. No cases have been reported of a life-threatening varicocele so far. However, if all the treatment procedures don’t seem to work in eliminating the condition, that will be a sign of some other blockage in the veins that will need further check-up and treatment.

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