Varicocele

A varicocele is when veins become enlarged inside your scrotum (the pouch of skin that holds your testicles). These veins are called the pampiniform plexus. It is like getting a varicose vein in your leg. Most of the time, varicoceles cause no problems and are harmless.

What are the causes of Varicocele?

Many causes of varicoceles have been offered. The valves in the veins may not work well (or may be missing). If blood flow is sluggish, blood may pool in the veins. If blood flows backwards or pools in the veins, that can cause them to swell. Rarely, swollen lymph nodes or other masses behind the belly block blood flow. This can lead to sudden swelling of the scrotal veins. This is often painful.

Varicoceles affect every man differently. Early on, they don’t always present symptoms, but as swelling increases, you might experience:

  • Sharp pain
  • Dull throbbing
  • Feelings of general discomfort
  • Impaired fertility
  • Relief when you lie down on your back

Pain caused by varicoceles usually gets worse throughout the day. It may also increase if you stand for long periods or participate in physical activity.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Varicocele?

Varicoceles are found through self-exam of the scrotum or during a routine doctor’s exam. They have been described as a “bag of worms” because of how they look and feel. Urologists often check for varicoceles with the patient standing. You may be asked to take a deep breath, hold it, and bear down while your urologist feels the scrotum above the testicle. Ultrasound technology is also another useful and provided diagnostic technique at SouthWest Urology. These veins can be measured, and blood flow can be seen.

Often, varicoceles are not treated. Treatment is considered for males who have:

  • Fertility problems (problems fathering a child)
  • Pain
  • The left testicle growing more slowly than the right
  • Abnormal semen analysis

There are no drugs to treat or prevent varicoceles. When needed, surgery is the main form of treatment. Embolization (briefly blocking the veins) is a non-surgical treatment option.

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  • Twelve highly trained, collaborative urological specialists all taking new patients
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