Sometimes, one or more of the veins of the scrotum may develop an abnormality known as a varicocele. These veins are known as pampiniform plexus. A varicocele only develops in the scrotum and nowhere else. It has similar traits as varicose veins found in the legs. It has severe effects. It can reduce the production of sperm leading to infertility.

Essential Facts About Varicoceles

Varicoceles do not pose a major health threat, but they should be considered serious because they can cause infertility. About ten to 15 percent of the male population has varicoceles. They mostly affect males between the ages of 15 and 25. Varicoceles usually form at puberty. They are mainly found on the left side of the scrotum. Only in rare cases can varicoceles be found on both sides of the scrotum.

The exact cause of varicoceles is still unknown. It does not depend on age, color, race, geographical location or ethnicity. Some research claims that obesity may play a role in reducing the chance of contracting varicocele, but the health risks of obesity outweigh those of developing a varicocele. Exercising and maintaining a healthy body is ideal.

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What Causes a Varicocele?

While causes of varicocele are still not yet known, the following factors have been found to influence the development of varicoceles.

  • It is possible that the valves in the veins may become dysfunctional or completely absent.
  • If the blood does not flow normally, it may clog the veins.
  • The veins that connect testicles to the heart are set up differently on the right and left-hand sides. The left side requires more pressure to maintain a normal blood flow that goes to the heart. If the pressure is not high enough, it can cause the blood to flow backward and cause a swelling.
  • In rare cases, swollen lymph nodes can cause scrotal veins to swell as well.

What Causes a Varicocele?


Symptoms of Varicocele

While varicocele doesn’t always display symptoms, there are, in fact, a number of varicocele symptoms. All of them fall into three distinct groups.

  1. How the scrotum looks and feels – This allows men to see for themselves that they may have varicocele even without undergoing any tests.
  2. Feeling of pain – Experiencing pain either in the groin or scrotum is any indication of a possible varicocele.
  3. Systemic problems – There may be systemic issues caused by a varicocele.

The exact symptoms that men may experience include:

    • Unusually large scrotum – A varicocele is a result of swollen or enlarged veins in the scrotum. This will lead to the enlarging of the scrotum.
    • Different testicle sizes – The testicles of a normal healthy male roughly have the same size. Varicocele can cause testicles to have noticeable size differences. The side of the scrotum that has varicocele results in a smaller testicle. In most cases (85 percent), a varicocele affects the scrotum’s left side.
    • Testicle lump – Men should constantly check or feel if they have any lumps in the testicles. Varicocele may cause a lump is painless. This lump calls for immediate medical attention.
    • Uncomfortable pain – A varicocele does not usually cause pain. Sometimes, it may cause an ache in the scrotum. The clogging of blood in the scrotum can be to blame for this.
    • Pain after exercise – Feeling pain for an extended period of time after a strenuous exercise.
    • Weather-related pain – Experienced pain that increases when the weather gets hotter may be a sign of varicocele. Hot weather causes the veins to swell and enlarge and this affects the veins that pump and direct blood to the heart.
    • Infertility –  The testicles are the factory for the production of sperm. The testicles favor a certain temperature in order to be able to manufacture sperms. Enlarged veins that cause the varicocele maintains a temperature higher than the one required for sperm production. Doctors speculate that this affects sperm production, which directly affects male fertility. 40 percent of male infertility cases are due to varicoceles.
    • Low testosterone – Doctors are convinced that varicoceles can get in the way of testosterone production. Low levels of testosterone can result in:
      • Weak erections
      • Depression
      • Low sex drive
      • Fatigue
      • Sleeping troubles
      • Problems concentrating
      • Increase in fat mass and a decrease in muscle mass

If you’ve experienced any number of these symptoms and you’re concerned about varicoceles, it’s understandable that you may be somewhat worried about the prospect of treating this condition. You may have even started searching for providers online with queries like “varicocele treatment near me” or “urologist near me.”

Symptoms of Varicocele

Health Living Tips to Prevent Varicoceles

Here are a few tips for the prevention of varicoceles:

  • Toxins – Avoid being exposed to toxins. Toxins in the bloodstream may affect your sperm.
  • Comfortable clothing – Wearing supportive underwear allows testicles to be at their preferred temperature
  • Healthy diet – A diet that includes antioxidant foods is highly encouraged.
  • Selenium – Selenium is a mineral required for sperm development.

When to See a Doctor in Atlanta for a Varicocele

A varicocele does not normally display major symptoms. If you have experienced any of the symptoms listed above, you should be concerned, and it may be a good time to see a doctor about a varicocele diagnosis. You may already be considering it— you may have searched online for “varicocele treatment near me.”  Doctors tend to deal with each case in different ways. Some will call for a treatment. Others will tell the patients to wait a bit if there is no pain or adverse symptoms. Fertility doctors usually recommend the patient undergo a treatment in order to increase the chances of being fertile. If you do need treatment, a procedure will be needed, as there are no varicocele medications.

Diagnosing a Varicocele

  • Physical examination – a doctor will check for any testicle lumps by feeling them. The doctor is only able to feel it if it big enough
  • Scrotal ultrasound – this method is used if the physical exam does not yield tangible results. Sound waves are used to produce internal images of the body. This is for checking if the symptoms are not as a result of a different condition.

Treatment for a Varicocele

Varicocele does not always need to be treated. However, patients may need to have a varicocele repair. Varicocele surgery closes the affected vein so that blood flow is redirected to normal veins. This surgery has a few risks such infections.

Advanced Urology is actively monitoring the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The health and well-being of our patients, staff and their families is of utmost importance to us. We will continue to follow CDC guidelines to help prevent exposure and spread of the virus. We are staying open to serve our patients in-person and offering Telehealth appointments for those that prefer to access care from home.