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What is a varicocele ?

  • 08

    By Katherine Kozlowski, Medical Author and Writer for Veins News and www.VeinsVeinsVeins.com


    What is a varicocele? 
    A varicocele is a term that is used to describe abnormally dilated (varicose) veins in the scrotum,  These veins are called the scrotal pampiniform plexus of veins. 

    How common is a varicocele in the general population?
    Varicocele is present in 15% to 20% of all males. 

    How common is a varicocele in infertile men? 
    Varicoceles are found in 40% of infertile men. 

    Is a varicocele painful?
    No. In general, varicoceles are pain free. 

    Why are they identified or diagnosed? 
    Varicoceles are commonly identified as the cause of abnormal semen analysis, low sperm count, decreased sperm motility, and abnormal sperm morphology. 
    Who treats varicoceles? 
    A Urologist should be seen in consultation if you have been diagnosed with a varicocele.

    What should I do if you have a varicocele? 
    The Urologist can treat you or refer you out to a male infertility specialist who is a Urology specialist.  If you have no issues with fertility, there is usually no need to intervene or treat.  Please discuss this with the Urologist. 

    What are the treatment options?
    There are several treatment options to address varicocele. The following are the most common approaches:

    1. Percutaneous embolization of the internal spermatic vein, in which an interventional radiologist will utilize a coil, vascular plug, or a liquid agent to close off the vein through a catheter.

    2. Open or microsurgical repair of the varicocele, in which a small incision is made in the groin and the vessels are tied off.

    3. Laparoscopic repair of the varicocele, in which a tube or scope is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen to repair the vessels.

      Reference: Halpern J., Mittal S., Pereira K et al. Percutaneous embolization of varicocele: technique, indications, relative contraindications, and complications. Asian J Androl 2016; 18: 234-238