What is a varicocele?


February 10, 2018

What is a varicocele? |

A varicocele is an abnormal enlargement of veins inside the scrotum (the loose sac that contains the testes). When veins become dilated, they cause blood to abnormally collect in the scrotum and this can cause overheating of the testicles, which in turn can lead to infertility. Most of the time, varicoceles begin during puberty, as the testes and scrotum are enlarging but it is not usually noticed until much later. Up to 15% of all men worldwide suffer from this condition.

Symptoms of varicocele

In most cases there are no symptoms but those with more serious forms may feel a lump or a sack of worms on the affected testicle. There may also be a dragging feeling or associated pain which comes and goes. For many people however, the inability to father a child may be the only reason they getsto find out and indeed, up to 40% of men who suffer from infertility have varicoceles.

Diagnosis of varicoceles

If the varicocele is big enough, then the doctor can physically assess by feeling the scrotal sac or by looking at it through a light. An ultrasound scan is also very useful for diagnosing varicoceles, particularly when they are small.


Apart from painkillers to relieve pain, there are currently no medications that can treat varicoceles. However if the affected testicle is shrinking, there is regular pain or the person is having issues fathering a child, then surgery may be an option. This usually involves making a cut into the scrotum and blocking blood from flowing into the enlarged veins. Surgery is usually effective and can solve the problem of infertility but as with all procedures, there is a small risk of complications or even recurrence.  

Final word

For the millions of men who suffer from varicoceles, the discomfort and risk of infertility is a major reason to be aware of the cause and the management of this condition.

If you or any one you know may have a varicocele then you should schedule a visit to a urologist (a surgeon who deals with the male reproductive tract as well as the urinary tract of both sexes). You can find a verified one on www.doctordial.ng. You can consult other specialists and general doctors right away!



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