Varicocele


Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What is varicocele?

Enlargement of veins present in the scrotum is called varicocele.  These veins are medically called pampiniform plexus.  The onset of varicocele generally occurs during puberty.  During the initial stages, you could hardly have any symptoms and the minimal symptoms that occur generally go unnoticed.  Over a period of time, the veins become enlarged and can be visually seen.  It is quite rare to experience serious problems associated with varicocele.

In a few cases,  pain may be associated with this condition.  More severe cases include infertility due to low sperm count and reduced testosterone levels.  One of the important functions of pampiniform plexus is to maintain temperature levels in the scrotum.  Since these veins become enlarged, the temperature levels rise above the desired value leading to impaired sperm production.  This, in turn, can cause problems with fertility and other related issues.

How is varicocele caused?

varicocele-infectionAs discussed earlier, the enlargement of pampiniform plexus leads to this condition.  An important question that arises here is what makes these veins to become enlarged.  The main reason for this condition is due to the abnormal blood supply.  The valves present in by the spermatic cords malfunction and this reduces the blood supply to the pampiniform plexus.  There is no clear indication as to why there is an abnormality in the blood supply.

The only reason for this could be faulty valves that supply blood.  Once there is inadequate blood supply, the pampiniform plexus become dilated and over a period of time stop working.

Type of varicocele

Varicoceles are mainly divided into two types.  These include pressure varicocele and shunt varicocele.

Pressure varicocele

In this condition, the veins supplying blood to the spermatic cord swells up due to the accumulation of blood in the veins.  This condition is also termed as first-grade varicocele.

Shunt varicocele

This is a more severe case where the veins become damaged due to the accumulation of blood in the veins.  The severity of the damage determines the grade of the varicocele.  These are also called second grade and third-grade varicocele depending on the severity.

Health concerns related to varicocele

Health problems associated with varicocele is not common.  In fact, the majority of men suffering from varicocele end up leading a normal life without any medical intervention.  Having said that it does not mean that there is no complications altogether.  In certain cases, the anatomy of the organ can lead to complications such as:

Reduced sperm production

This is considered as the most serious complication associated with varicocele.  Reduced sperm count generally leads to male infertility and is one of the extremely rare health conditions affecting men.  Dilation of the vein called pampiniform plexus vein is the root cause of this condition.  As discussed earlier, one of the important functions of this vein is to maintain the temperature of the scrotum.  It should be noted that the temperature of scrotum is generally lower as compared to the temperature of the abdomen.

The temperature that is maintained in the scrotum is ideal for the production of adequate sperm count.  In the case of varicocele, when the pampiniform plexus becomes dilated, it leads to the temperature becoming higher.  When the temperature becomes higher, it affects the production of sperms and hence leads to male infertility.

Testicular atrophy

One of the important glands present inside the scrotum is the testis.  In fact, there is a pair of testis present in the scrotum.  This is the gland that aid in the production of sperm.  Testes generally shrink for two reasons.  When the temperature is cooler, the testes get close to the body and maintain the temperature which resembles shrinking of testes.  On the other hand, old age can lead to testicular shrinking.  In the case of varicocele, testicular shrinking occurs due to the inadequate blood supply to the testes and hence is also called first-grade varicocele.

Lower testosterone levels

Reduction in the levels of testosterone is one of the side effects of testicular atrophy.  Both the sperms and the testosterone hormones are secreted by the testes.  When there is inadequate blood supply to the testes, there is increased pressure exerted leading to an increase in the levels of luteinizing hormone and a decrease in the levels of testosterone.  This is a condition where the pituitary gland secretes more luteinizing hormones in order to compensate for the decreased levels of testosterone from malfunctioning testes.

How is varicocele diagnosed?

Diagnosis of varicocele generally happens only when you visit the doctor for an underlying health condition related to the reproductive system.  It is quite rare to consult the doctor due to pain in the scrotum because of varicocele.  The first step of diagnosing this condition involves a physical examination.  During the physical examination, the doctor would look for enlarged veins in the scrotum.  Next, the scrotum would be felt in order to find any abnormalities.  If the outcome of the examination is uncertain, the next step would be diagnosing the problem with the help of ultrasound.

Is varicocele treatable?

Treatment for varicocele is required only when it leads to many complications such as pain in the scrotum, infertility, or abnormal levels of testosterone.  An important point to be noted here is that varicocele cannot be treated with non-invasive methods.  The only way varicocele can be treated is with the help of surgery.  The main concept of undergoing the surgery would include rerouting the blood flow to the veins.  Once this is achieved, the majority of the complications associated with varicocele can be treated.  Some of the factors that are considered for surgery include testicular pain, testicular atrophy, and inadequate semen production.

The surgery associated with varicocele includes three types namely open surgery which is medically termed as varicocelectomy.  Next is the laparoscopic surgery where three incisions are made in the abdomen and laparoscopic instrument is used to perform the surgery.  Finally, percutaneous embolization method is used to perform the surgery.

Open surgery (varicocelectomy)

Open surgery involves surgery under general anesthesia.  There are two ways of approaching this procedure.  The most common accessing point would be through the groin region while the less common accessing point includes through the abdomen.  With the use of a microscope, the affected veins would be rerouted in order to provide adequate blood supply.  Once the procedure is completed, sutures are placed.  The pain following the surgery is maintained with the help of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Laparoscopic varicocele surgery

The procedure is undertaken with the help of general anesthesia.  The incision is made in the groin and the affected area is accessed with the help of laparoscopic instruments.  This procedure generally involves multiple incisions in order to perform the surgery.  The laparoscopic instrument would also include a camera and a light source to assist the surgeon.  The same procedure of rerouting the blood supply is undertaken as discussed in open surgery.  Finally, the incisions are closed with the help of sutures.  The size of the incision is considerably smaller as compared to the open procedure.

Percutaneous embolization

This is the most preferred type of invasive surgery among the three surgeries.  Here, catheters are passed through the groin to access the affected area.  Once the affected area is reached, the affected veins are blocked which leads to the rerouting of blood.  This is minimally invasive surgery and can be undergone even as an outpatient.

Complications from surgery

Complications associated with surgery is considerably rare, but are not ruled out.  One of the most common complications would include recurrence.  In the case of open and laparoscopic surgeries since sutures are placed, there is a possibility of infection at the incision site.  Another complication may include the occurrence of hydrocele, a condition where fluids get accumulated surrounding the testicles.  Finally, there is also a possibility of damage to the artery.

Natural treatments for varicocele

Improve blood supply

Trying to improve blood supply to the scrotum is one of the important ways to naturally treat varicocele.  There are certain postures available in yoga that can be performed in order to improve the blood supply to this region.  Research has also indicated that yoga, in particular, can help relieve stress and improve blood flow when certain postures are performed.  Few examples for these postures include a shoulder support stand, bridge posture, and breathing by meditating.

Try supplements

Certain herbal supplements are recommended to treat this condition.  A supplement prepared from the seed of horse chestnut can be tried.  It should be noted that the main ingredient present here is aescin which is highly poisonous.  The supplement form is the goodness of aescin which has been extracted and helps in relieving the symptoms of varicocele.  These types of supplements can be dangerous and should be taken only under medical supervision.

Reduce the temperature

One of the ways to naturally treat this condition would include reducing the temperature of the scrotum.  This can be achieved by allowing cold running water to flow on the scrotum.  Since the temperature of the scrotum is generally lower as compared to the abdomen, it is important to maintain this temperature which helps in the production of sperms from the testes.

Eat a healthy diet

It is important to eat a healthy diet containing antioxidants to help treat varicocele.  Antioxidants help in many ways.  Studies have revealed that antioxidants help in protecting the veins of the scrotum from the harmful effects of oxidative stress.  Another important function of an antioxidant is by halting the progression of varicocele.

Practice Kegel exercise

Kegel exercise or pelvic floor exercise is one of the safest ways to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve the blood supply to the scrotum.  Practicing these exercises for five minutes daily can provide good results in treating varicocele.

The above-mentioned treatments are just an alternative method of treating this condition.  It is also one of the ways where surgery can be postponed to a future date and first try with these natural treatments.  It should be noted that these treatments do not guarantee a cure to the condition and should be implemented only under medical supervision.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Consider getting tested if you are facing the symptoms of varicocele.
  • Avoid the use of tobacco.
  • Stay away from caffeinated beverages.
  • Keep stress at bay.
Don'ts
  • Delay medical care.
  • Use tobacco.
  • Drink caffeinated beverages.
  • Wear tight-fitting undergarments.

 

 

 

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8 appetizing and mouth-watering recipes that every low-carb dieter should try Looking for delicious recipes that will fix your hunger pang without adding those pesky carbs? Look no further…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
Threatened abortion
A few facts about threatened abortion A threatened miscarriage indicates an early pregnancy loss. Look out for symptoms like bleeding, vaginal discharge, and pain.
blood ketone test
Blood Ketone (D3HB) Test The Blood Ketone Test measures and monitors the levels of ketone in the blood which is usually performed…
Goji berry: A traditional Chinese berry that packs the best of antioxidants Goji berry is an ancient berry that is considered to be power-packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Which means…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
blood elements analysis
Vitamin Profile Your doctor will recommend you undergo the vitamin profile test if you are showing signs of either vitamin…
Splenda
Splenda Splenda is an artificial sweetener derived from Stevia plant extracts. It is low in calories and a popular…
Surgery or home-remedy; what is the right way to treat a burn The treatment of a burn injury depends on its severity. You can save a life by offering the…
6 arguments in favour of glucosamine and where can you find it Studies have shown that glucosamine works by preventing the breakdown of cartilage of the joints. This is usually…
Diabetes blood test
Diabetic Profile The diabetic profile is a set of tests used for testing and monitoring the various kinds of Diabetes…
Shilajit: A miracle Himalayan herb for an active and happy life The Himalayas contain more wonders than you thought. Shilajit is a miracle herb that is widely used in…
top 10 deadliest diseases
What are the top 10 deadliest diseases and what is causing them? What are the largest killers of human lives across the globe? Which diseases are the most fatal ones?…
CEA_test
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test CEA or carcinoembryonic test detects the presence of CEA antigen in your blood mainly & determines the effectiveness…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
blood elements analysis
Blood Element Analysis Test A blood element analysis is a blood test performed to measure the level of toxic elements such as…
gout diet purines
Gout Diet : Get relief from painful joints by eating these foods Are you a victim of this painful condition? Are medications providing only short relief? Find a list of…
The science behind daith piercing: Can it really cure migraine? Since the ear has several pressure points, it is believed that daith piercing activates the vagus nerve and…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
angiography
Angiography Angiography is a diagnostic tool used to determine the narrowing or blockage in the arteries and veins supplying…
Ultrasound
Abdominal Ultrasound An abdominal ultrasound is used to visualize the organs inside your abdominal cavity including the liver, spleen, gall…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
Chlorella: Therapeutic powers of the billion-year-old algae now within your reach Chlorella - A billion year old nutrient-rich algae that can potentially ward off cancers and high cholesterol; the…
leptospira Igm test
Leptospira-IgM Test A Leptospira-IgM test is a blood test which is carried out to detect anti-Leptospira IgM antibody. Leptospirosis is…
Astaxanthin: Why experts believe it could be 550x more potent than vitamin E! What is astaxanthin and why is this new supplement on the block touted as the most powerful antioxidant…
Inhale oxygen, exhale worries: The top breathing exercises and how to perform them Performing the breathing exercise is like becoming mindful of how you breathe.  Here is a list of breathing…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
Rheumatoid Arthritis xray
Arthritis Profile Arthritis profile is a panel of primarily blood tests used to detect the presence of arthritis or check…
Vaginoplasty - Post-op care
Vaginoplasty Know more about vaginoplasty, the procedure, post-operative care, best options for treatment, cost, and possible risks. %%sitename%% %
Sputum test Sputum test is a commonly used diagnostic tool that is used to examine the presence of pathogens in…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
cystoscopy
Cystoscopy Cystoscopy is a procedure to check the health of the urethra and the bladder. The procedure is also…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
APL IgM Test
Antiphospholipid Antibody(APL)-IgM test The antiphospholipid antibodies are specific protein in the body directed against the phospholipids. It is used to detect…
lipoprotein A
Lipoprotein (A) Test Lipoprotein (A) test is used to measure and monitor the levels of LDL(Low-Density Lipoprotein) in the bloodstream in…
stain blood
Blood in your stool Know the reason for blood in your stool, toilet bowl or tissue and the important steps to take…
What is the right way to take a pregnancy test? A pregnancy test is undertaken to determine if you have conceived. A home pregnancy test is the most…
Lauric Acid: 8 health benefits you can derive from coconuts Appropriate use of saturated fats containing lauric acid can provide you numerous health benefits. This is the main…
Is bronchitis contagious? And how to prevent this infection? It is acute bronchitis that is contagious which means you can contract it from another person or you…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
green poop causes
Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it Ever sneak a peek down the toilet only to shockingly find green poop? Why does our poop turn…
cystatin C
Cystatin C Test Cystatin C is a specific single-chain protein that is found in body fluids and is a biomarker for…
hYdroxycut pills
Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
Anti-Inflammatory foods: 18 foods to a disease-free you Anti-inflammatory foods are the foods which are known to reduce the inflammation as well as the pain from…
Pelvic_ultrasound
Pelvic Ultrasound Pelvic ultrasound is a process where sound waves are used to create image of your pelvic region organs…
Carb Cycling: Weighing the pros vs the cons of this diet routine Completely discarding carbs from your life will do you more harm than good. Read more about carb cycling,…

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