Table of Contents
Definition of Varicocele and Symptoms
A varicose vein in the testicle. Varicose veins are dilated, twisted, and often nonfunctioning veins that develop for numerous reasons.
Varicocele affects the blood flow that leaves the testicles. Blood that accumulates in the testicles can raise the temperature within the scrotum high enough to interfere with proper sperm formation (spermatogenesis) and maturation, resulting in infertility.
A man may notice a varicocele as a soft bulge in his testicle that becomes more prominent when bearing down. Varicocele is more common in the left testicle because of the structure of the veins. The doctor can detect varicocele on palpating the testicles; Doppler ultrasound, which shows the flow of blood, confirms the diagnosis.
Treatment and Surgery
Treatment is surgery to repair the varicocele. The operation is an ambulatory surgery (the man goes home the same day). The man may receive general or regional anesthesia. The most common operative technique involves a small incision made into the lower portion of the groin through which the surgeon can reach and repair the varicocele.
Healing is rapid and most men return to regular activities, including sexual activity, within two weeks. When varicocele is the cause of infertility, fertility usually returns when the surgical wound heals.
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