A varicocele is a varicose vein of the scrotum.  Varicoceles are present in 1 out of 7 men and up to 30-40% of men who present to a fertility clinic.  The small veins that drain blood from the testicles allow it to cool which supports normal sperm production.  When dilated, these veins cause blood to pool as it leaves the testicle which in turn warms the arterial blood as it enters the testicle.  This can lead to decreased sperm counts as well as poor sperm quality.

Varicoceles are not always symptomatic.  Men may have no symptoms while others report a constant, dull heaviness or pain in the scrotum.  Other men may not find they have a varicocele until they undergo a workup for fertility.  Treatment for varicocele include over-the-counter pain medicine for discomfort, though surgery is the main form of intervention.  This is done microscopically, laparoscopically, or with embolization using a tiny coil or fluid in the blood vessel.  Correction of a varicocele has been reported to improve the count as well as the quality of sperm.

Varicocele Resources

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