A varicocele is enlargement of vein in a man’s scrotum i.e. in the loose bag that holds testicles. In varicocele, valves which regulate flow of blood out of testicles does not work properly thus allowing blood to flow backwards, causing stagnation and limiting adequate inflow of fresh blood.
Varicocele is a very common cause of low sperm production and decreased sperm quality causing infertility among man. As varicocele is outcome of obstruction in blood flow in testicles, it sometime does result into other health issues like erectile dysfunction. Varicocele is observed to be root cause of male infertility in 40% of the patients as per American Urological Association.
Varicoceles are often observed in young men, ranging usually from 13 to 35 years. It mostly forms during puberty and grow gradually. Sometimes Varicocele is viewable as identified in the pic above, however if you face any of the following issues it is better to get yourself evaluated:
- Dilated veins are available are visible on the scrotum (as shown in figure above)
- The scrotum skin on touch feels thick and heavy
- Dull to mild pain or discomfort in the scrotum or testicles.
- Shrinkage of Testicles, one or both. Testicles may shrink temporarily and return to normal size; however, it still may be due to varicocele problem.
- Difference in size of the testicles as varicocele may hamper growth of a testicle.
- Experiencing infertility (low sperm count, or poor sperm quality)
- Pain in testicle zone during Sex
If you have any of the above issues it is better to get yourself checked by an expert doctor. If you are facing any infertility issues it is better to first get check-up done for varicocele as it may save you lot of money on other tests and procedures.
What causes Varicocele?
While no specific cause cannot be attributed to varicocele, following factors may contribute to its occurrence.
- Unhealthy diet and improper bowel health
- Blood Pressure / Cholesterol issues
- External injury
Is Varicocele a serious health problem?
Varicocele i.e. issue with backward blood flow due to valve malfunction, may in itself not be a health issue. But Varicocele may lead to issues like infertility in men and sometimes sexual performance. As explained above varicocele is reason of male infertility in 40% of the cases.
It is perfectly treatable via inexpensive procedure hence, it is always better to get yourself checked by an expert doctor.
If you are facing any of the above issues/symptoms, you may connect with us for a free online medical guidance from expert.
What Doctor to see for Varicocele?
Being an issue related to male genital, Varicocele is often ignored and consultation with expert doctor is not taken. You can consult with following experts for treatment of varicocele
- interventional radiologist – for advanced minimally invasive procedure
- urologist – for surgical procedure
You should ask your family doctor/ infertility expert for a varicocele evaluation by an expert before opting for other expensive treatment options for infertility.
Diagnosis of Varicocele
Primary evaluation of Varicocele is done by a doctor with a physical examination. You are asked to take a deep breath, hold it, and bear down while doctor feels the scrotum and the area around. This technique is “Valsalva maneuver”.
Doctor can further confirm the finding by getting a Scrotal Ultrasound test. With ultrasound doctors can analyse the speed with which blood is flowing and can gauge if there is any obstruction.
Treatment is offered only if patient is suffering from symptoms as given above. Multiple Treatment options are available for Varicocele:
Surgical Treatment: Traditionally, Urologist have been surgically correcting varicocele. In this surgery, a cut is made in the genital area and the veins are tied with sutures. However, under this process the recovery period for the patient is high (2 – 3 weeks) and painful. The surgery can be either open surgery or laparoscopic as decided by the surgeon.
Varicocele Embolization: This is a modern and advanced technique is performed by an Interventional Radiologist, mostly on outpatient basis i.e. you need not be admitted in the hospital.
In this procedure, an ultrathin calibre tube(catheter) is guided through a nick or a hole (tinier than a pencil lead) in the neck or groin area; and painlessly guided into the venous system with the help of continuous advanced x-ray imaging. The targeted vein is navigated through and is then closed with the help of medical device. Normally the procedure is over in 30 minutes to 1 hour and patient can resume normal life after 24 hours of rest.
Embolization is generally a preferred treatment option as it provides faster recovery to the patient with less pain and highly cost effective compared to surgical options.
If you need any guidance regarding Varicocele, we can assist you in getting free online medical opinion to help you make right decision.