What is a Varicocele?
A varicocele is an abnormality in your scrotum that looks like a stretched and dilated vein, and that can drain the testicle. They often result from the male’s upright posture and occur during puberty. The occurrence of varicoceles affects about 15% of the male population.
Why Do They Occur?
There are still several theories to explain how and why varicoceles occur. One is that the valves begin to function poorly where the varicoceles veins are supposed to drain, therefore causing a dam-like effect; this, then, increases pressure and discomfort in the varicoceles. Luckily, these are not cancerous; they are merely a byproduct of being human.
- Scrotal pain
- Sometimes asymptomatic
- Pain during long periods of sitting
- Pain during activity that is relieved by lying down
- Pain is related to urination problems or erectile dysfunction
- Pain is dull like a toothache and is usually not present when first waking up
Varicoceles Associated with Infertility
According to one study, 35% of men who are infertile have a varicocele, whereas out of the general population of men, only 15% of them have a varicocele. Because of this, this has lead to an extensive ongoing study of the relationship between the presence of varicoceles and infertility among men. One conclusion is that the dilated veins in the varicoceles impede the cooling mechanism in the testis and hurt its ability to function properly.
How to Diagnose a Varicocele
Typically, Varicoceles are found through a physical examination when the patient is standing up; the physician will exam the scrotum area. Something that can be mistaken for a varicocele is benign fat called “lymphoma of the cord,” which can feel like a varicocele. Some varicoceles cannot be found by physical examination, but rather by a CAT scan or ultrasound.
When to Repair a Varicocele
- If a large varicocele is found in an adolescent and the testis on that side are visibly smaller.
- If scrotal pain is noticeable due to presence of a varicocele
- To help raise testosterone levels that are lower than normal
- To correct male infertility
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