What is Varicocele?
Varicocele is a condition in which the veins in the scrotal sac become enlarged and twisted. These veins are called the pampiniform plexus, and they carry the blood away from the testicles. Varicocele can occur on one side, or both sides, of the scrotum. The condition is generally painless, but it can uncomfortably increase the temperature of and pressure on the testicles, and it can decrease fertility in men.
Symptoms of Varicocele
The most common symptom of varicocele is a noticeable enlargement on one side of the scrotum. This area may feel like a “bag of worms” as it consists of the twisted veins. In some cases, there may also be pain, discomfort, and a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum. In severe cases, male infertility may result because of increased temperature around the testicles.
Causes of Varicocele
The exact cause of varicocele is unknown. However, it is believed to be due to a valve defect in the veins surrounding the testicles that allow the blood to backflow, which causes the veins to enlarge.
Diagnosis of Varicocele
Varicocele is usually diagnosed during a physical examination. Your doctor may ask you to stand or recline and will feel your scrotum for any enlarged veins. Additionally, your doctor may order an imaging test such as an ultrasound or MRI scan for a more accurate diagnosis.
Treatment of Varicocele
In many cases, treatment is not necessary as the condition is usually not painful and does not cause any major health issues. But, in cases where pain or infertility is a concern, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair the veins. Surgery is usually performed using either a surgical microscope or a laparoscope.
The most common surgical procedure to treat varicocele is a microsurgical varicocelectomy. During this procedure, the surgeon will make a few small cuts in your abdomen or scrotum and use a microscope to locate and block off the enlarged veins. This procedure is usually an outpatient procedure, so you can go home the same day. Other surgical procedures include an open varicocelectomy, which is an open incision in your abdomen, and a laparoscopic varicocelectomy, which is a minimally invasive procedure.
In addition to surgical treatments, you can help manage and treat varicocele with lifestyle changes. These lifestyle changes may include:
- Exercise: Regular exercise can help improve circulation, thus improving your symptoms.
- Wearing looser clothing: Avoid tight clothes that may further pressure your testicles.
- Eating a balanced diet: Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help improve your overall health, which can aid in improving your symptoms.
- Maintaining a healthy weight: Excess weight can add pressure to your testicles and worsen varicocele symptoms.
Varicocele is a condition in which the veins around the testicles become enlarged and twisted, leading to pain and discomfort. Varicocele is usually diagnosed during a physical examination and treatment is usually not necessary. However, in some cases, treatment may be recommended in the form of surgery or lifestyle changes. It is important for men to be aware of the symptoms of varicocele and to seek medical attention if their symptoms do not improve.