A varicocele is a mass formed by varix (an unusually swollen vein) or a group of varices, usually located in the scrotum or the spermatic cord. There is also the female varicocele when dilation occurs in the ovarian veins and produces pelvic varices.
It usually develops during puberty, most often on the left side of the scrotum. Although it’s usually harmless, it can damage the testicles or decrease sperm production in some people.
Prognosis of the disease
Varicocele is not a severe disease, but it is a frequent cause of low sperm production and therefore can cause sterility or infertility. In some cases, varicocele can cause the testicles to shrink (atrophy) and not develop normally.
The varicocele is usually asymptomatic, but in some cases, it can cause pain that varies from mild discomfort to severe pain and increases throughout the day and when standing or exerting yourself.
Over time, the varicocele grows and becomes more noticeable.
Medical tests for varicocele
The diagnosis of the varicocele is made by the urologist or andrologist, who performs a physical examination in search of the firm mass in the testicle that is characteristic of the varicocele.
What are the causes of varicocele?
Varicocele is caused by the swelling of a vein or varicose vein within the spermatic cord, which is the one that transports blood to the testicles. This swelling can impede blood flow to the testicles and affect fertility.
The cause of the venous swelling that causes a varicocele is unknown.
Can it be prevented?
There are no risk factors associated with varicocele, and they cannot be prevented.
Treatments for varicocele
In many cases, varicocele does not need treatment: it is a degree of varicocele that does not present symptoms and does not influence fertility.
Suppose the testicular varicocele produces symptoms of pain and causes infertility. In that case, surgical intervention is performed, called varicocelectomy, which consists of cutting the affected veins so that the blood flows through the healthy veins. It is performed on an outpatient basis and under general anesthesia, with the ability to resume daily activities a few days later. The pain symptoms will subside within a few days or weeks.
An alternative to surgery is percutaneous varicocele embolization, making a much smaller incision and placing a catheter inside the vein.