What is varicocele?

What is varicocele?

Varicocele is a medical condition which occurs when the veins inside a man's scrotum enlarge and swells. These veins are called pampiniform plexus. The scrotum of a man affected with varicocele appears to be looking like a bag of worms. This condition occurs in about one in six men and is common in younger males of ages 15-25.

Usually, varicocele is harmless and not all of them need to be corrected with treatment. But if it causes infertility due to low sperm production or leads to some discomfort and pain, then its best to seek the help of a urologist for this problem.

Symptoms of Varicocele

  • Swelling in the scrotum
  • Dull pain in the testicles, that gets worse during the daytime especially in the hot weather or after some physical activities
  • Heaviness felt in the testicles
  • Lump in one of the testicles
  • Twisted veins in the scrotum that looks like a bad of worms
  • Shrunken testicles

Causes of Varicocele

The exact cause of this medical condition is unclear. It could happen due to some problem in the blood flow inside the scrotum like; slow blood flow or backflow of the blood can swell the veins causing the varicocele.

Diagnosis of Varicocele

To diagnose varicocele, a physical examination will be done by your doctor. He will try to feel the veins by asking you to stand straight, taking a deep breath, and holding it while bearing down. In case of minor varicocele, if your doctor feels, the physical exam was not enough to be sure of it, then a scrotal ultrasound or thermography can also be done.

Treatment of Varicocele

Generally, varicocele is not treated. But, if the affected person has some other problems like inability to father a child, pain or swelling in the scrotum, different size of testicles or lumps in the scrotum, then a proper treatment is required.
The available treatment options are as given below:

  • Surgery or varicocelectomy is the most common treatment for varicocele. It can be an open surgery or laparoscopic surgery.
  • A non-surgical treatment known as percutaneaous embolization which can be done to shrunken the varicocele.