MFS Fertility Blog

Varicocele Surgery: A Journey to Improved Male Fertility

Posted on February 25, 2013 in Male Infertility, Male Fertility Specialists (MFS)

The scrotum, as any tissue in your body, is equipped with a framework of blood vessels that deliver nutrients and oxygen, and remove waste products from the cells. However, sometimes the veins that carry blood from the scrotum back to the heart become enlarged and dilated. This condition, referred to as varicocele, causes pain, accumulation of blood, and swelling of the testes. Although varicocele is often harmless, in some cases it can reduce the quality and quantity of your sperm, and cause infertility.   

Varicocele Symptoms
Varicocele is most commonly seen in young men, and it usually occurs on the left side of the scrotum. The condition does not always cause symptoms, but if you do experience pain, it often worsens throughout the day, during activity, or prolonged standing. Varicocele can cause the testes to shrink, become infected, or clotted. Varicocele can also result in injury to nearby blood vessels.  Varicocele can be diagnosed during a routine physical exam, especially if there is a clear mass or swelling within the scrotum.  

Varicocele Treatment Options
Varicocele is usually treated with a conservative approach. This includes relieving the symptoms of pain and swelling by a scrotal support device, such as a jock strap. In severe cases, surgery is needed to relive the symptoms.  During the varicocele surgery, the dilated veins are tied off or purposely occluded with a tiny coil to prevent blood from entering and accumulating into the damaged vein. This forces the blood to find an alternative vascular route back to the heart, relieving the swelling and pain. Varicocele surgery is usually done as an outpatient procedure and involves a small incision in the lower abdomen or groin area.  Your doctor may use a tiny scope during the surgery to visualize the varicocele and repair it more accurately.

Varicocele & Fertility
Varicocele can contribute to infertility, by creating impaired sperm quality. Although surgical treatment of varicocele can relieve symptoms and increase sperm count, it is not a guarantee of your ability to conceive. Varicocele surgical repair does improve semen parameters in approximately 80% of men who receive the varicocele surgery. However, the age of the female partner severity of the male factor infertility needs to be considered when discussing fertility treatment options.

If you are experiencing pain and swelling of the testes, consult your doctor about possible causes and its impact on your fertility.

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