5 facts you should know about Varicocele
Varicocele is common condition experienced by almost one in six men. It results from the distension of the veins in the scrotal sac.
1. What causes Varicocele?
In most cases, we never know the exact cause for varicocele. But, it can be first identified at puberty.
Largely, it becomes visible later in adult men. Most varicocele is thought to exist since birth but becomes noticeable during or after puberty. Generally, it may lead to male infertility or symptomatic discomfort.
Besides this, varicocele does not usually lead to any other sinister clinical conditions. In less than half of the men diagnosed with varicocele, it may lead to failure to conceive despite normal semen analysis, low sperm count, low sperm motility or low sperm morphology.
In less than half of the men diagnosed with varicocele, it may lead to failure to conceive despite normal semen analysis, low sperm count, low sperm motility or low sperm morphology.
2. How common is varicocele?
Almost 15% of the men may suffer from varicocele. In men attending fertility clinics, nearly 40% may have a clinical or subclinical varicocele.
3. How is varicocele diagnosed?
The diagnosis is based on your symptoms, a physical examination and further tests, such as ultrasound scan, to confirm the diagnosis. If you have been trying to conceive with your partner, then you may benefit from a semen analysis. The symptoms and examination are enough in reaching a diagnosis.
As mentioned earlier, some men with varicocele may experience scrotal discomfort. They may also have low sperm count, low sperm motility or low sperm morphology. An ultrasound scan of the scrotal sac may be arranged if it is a subclinical varicocele or is hard to feel on physical examination.
4. How is it treated?
It is possible to correct the varicocele either by an operation or using special radiology procedure to block the dilated veins. The surgery is a minor day procedure and involves tying up of the dilated veins.
It can also be corrected using specialist interventional procedures (percutaneous embolization). In this case, the veins can be blocked using certain fine coils or chemicals. Only specialists who have expertise in interventional radiology can perform such procedures. There is a small chance that varicocele may persist or recur after surgery.
5. Should I consider surgery?
- If you are experiencing symptoms or there other reasons such as the effect on your fertility, then you should discuss with your Doctor.
- If you have been diagnosed with varicocele at puberty and are concerned about fertility. Then you may discuss having a corrective operation to avoid long-term consequences.
- If you have been trying to conceive with your partner with little success and there is no other cause of infertility. Then again you should see a fertility specialist and discuss treatment.
- If there are other causes of infertility than varicocele, that may explain your partner’s inability to conceive. Then Specialist may suggest advanced fertility treatments such as IVF or ICSI.
- If you suffer from varicocele, and you have low sperm count or low motility or low morphology. Then again you may discuss with your specialist the option of having surgery to prevent any further effect on your fertility.
In some patients, surgery can restore the sperm count or sperm motility. Restoring sperm parameters does not necessarily mean restoring male fertility. It is still controversial whether it definitely restores male fertility and helps couples avoid advanced fertility treatments such as ICSI.