Varicocele is a common male reproductive disorder. Varicocele occurs when the veins found in the scrotum become enlarged. The cause of these enlarged veins (or varicose veins) is due to the abnormal flow of blood into the testicles. In a man that doesn’t have Varicocele; the blow flows normally to the testicles through an artery and then flows out via a network of tiny veins that then drains into a larger, longer vein that travels up through the abdomen. The direction of this blood flow in the vein should always be upwards, towards the heart. A collection of one-way valves in the vein prevent the flow of this blood reversing back into the testicles.
What Causes Varicocele?
These one-way valves sometimes fail. The reverse flow of blood stretches and enlarges the tiny veins around the testicle to cause a Varicocele, a tangled network of blood vessels, or a varicose vein. Varicocele is more common among young males in their twenties or thirties. According to some studies and research, this condition affects approximately 10 percent of the male population. This condition can be very painful especially if the patient has had a Varicocele for a considerable length of time.
Signs and Symptoms of Varicocele
The first telling symptom is a throbbing pain localized in the male genital region. You can feel this either while standing or sitting for long periods of time. This condition and the pain can be made worse if you are doing heavy lifting or exerting energy that could impact on that region.
Varicocele is also one of the causes of infertility among men. The link between the two is not yet clear, but many researchers theorize that the increase in temperature due to the enlarged veins is causing problems in the production of healthy sperm. Moreover, other symptoms of this disorder that is linked to problems infertility are low sperm count, decreased sperm movement, and an increase in the number of deformed sperm cells.
Finally, the most serious sign of this disorder is testicular atrophy or the shrinking of the testicles. This is commonly diagnosed when there is an observable size difference between the two testicles.
Treatment of Varicocele
If you have been diagnosed with this disorder, there are a number of treatments that you can choose from. This disorder is usually harmless for the affected individual, but if there is pain, swelling, and signs of infertility, then treatment is really necessary. For those who are in the early stages of the disorder, may be prescribed an anti-inflammatory. It’s most likely that your physician will instruct you to wear more comfortable underwear to provide the necessary support to the testicles.
However, if anti-inflammatories do not alleviate the pain or swelling, then your physician may recommend the Varicocele surgery known as a varicocelectomy.
Surgery for Varicocele
This procedure is done by an urologist using local anesthesia. During surgery, the enlarged veins are tied off and the blood flow is redirected to normal flowing veins. After surgery, the patient should not do any heavy lifting. It is also likely that the need for a scrotal support device and an ice pack will help with post-surgery pain and swelling.
Once the enlarged veins have been removed, you can expect the pain to go away. You can also resume normal sexual functions. Varicocele is not as serious as testicular cancer, but it deserves the same medical attention to avoid any further discomfort and fertility issues.