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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Is it possible to achieve full body detox with Master Cleanse? Master cleanse is a diet consisting of a lemonade based beverage, a salt water drink and a herbal…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
colposcopy
Colposcopy Colposcopy is a simple, quick and non- invasive diagnostic tool to look closely inside the vulva, vagina, and…
cancer-389921_1280
Radiation Therapy Radiation therapy or radiotherapy is used to treat cancer. The treatment includes high doses of radiation to destroy…
iron deficiency profile
Iron Deficiency Profile An iron deficiency profile is a battery of blood tests which are performed in order to determine the…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
CLA: A breakthrough weight loss supplement with minimal side effects Tried every weight loss supplement in the market with no substantial gain? Why not try CLA supplements, derived…
common mental disorders
Common mental health disorders :The silent stigma surrounding millions More than 300 million sufferers and yet a silent and agonizing stigma; why are people still hush-hush about…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
Cordyceps: How the Caterpillar fungus works as a proven cancer-shield Strange as it may sound, but cordyceps or "caterpillar fungus", a fungus variety native to the Himalayas may…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
rosacea-treatment--before-_-after
The best and safest ways to treat rosacea Rosacea is a skin disease that is characterized by reddish hives and rashes on the face. Read more…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
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…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
Cottage cheese: What can you find in this healthy chunk of fresh milk cheese? Love cheese but scared of putting on extra pounds? With cottage cheese, you can get the best of…
Heart diseases patient
Heart Valve Surgery A heart valve surgery is a procedure to replace or repair the diseased heart valves. The most commonly…
Sputum test Sputum test is a commonly used diagnostic tool that is used to examine the presence of pathogens in…
Miracle extract from the root of maca: 10 ways it can help you! Maca root has been used for years in herbal medicine. Today scientific research is unearthing fresh evidence in…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
Oxidative Stress: Understanding the most lethal phenomenon happening in your body right now Free radicals cause damage to the body, which is known as oxidation.  The amount of oxidation caused by…
Vitamin K2: 8 reasons why you need this bone-building & cancer-fighting nutrient Vitamin K2 is claimed to be essential for your bone health, for reducing the risk of cancer, and…
Low fat diets
A complete list of low-fat diets and how to follow them Low-fat diets help you lose weight in a healthy way, but it works only with regular exercise and…
Vagus nerve: 7 health benefits of stimulating the “gut-brain” connection As a matter of fact, there are two vagus nerves namely the left and the right but is…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
angiography
Angiography Angiography is a diagnostic tool used to determine the narrowing or blockage in the arteries and veins supplying…
How can berberine supplements help you live longer and healthier? Berberine is a turmeric look-alike herbal extract that is credited with numerous health benefits ranging from diabetes cure…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
Greek Yogurt: Discover the secret ingredient to the real Spartan strength Greek yogurt is probably the tastiest way you can enhance your gut microflora. Read more to find out…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
Potassium healthy
Potassium: How only 100 mg a day can dramatically increase your lifespan! The word potassium comes from the process where wood ashes were stored in pots for extraction. What else…
Blood Disorders cancer
Immunotherapy immunotherapy is a treatment that boosts the body's immune system to identify the cancer cells and fight cancer.
Lung cancer xray
Lobectomy Lobectomy is a surgery where a lobe of the diseased lung is removed. It is mainly done to…
heartfail_2
Open Heart Surgery An open heart surgery is a major procedure performed to treat heart diseases like congenital heart problem, heart…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
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…
biopsy procedure
Biopsy Biopsy is a procedure of studying a live tissue sample collected from a specific organ for diagnosing a…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
What is Qigong and how can it help you channelize you inner “Qi”? Qigong is an integrated way of performing a traditional exercise regimen that can help in promoting health, mental…
Tissue Transglutaminase Antibody (tTG) Test Transglutaminase is an enzyme present in our body and is involved in protein metabolism. A tTg test is…
xylitol gum
Xylitol : Is this the right sugar substitute for you? Discovered during World War 2 owing to sugar shortage, xylitol has become a common name in pharamaceutical industry.…
fructosamine test
Fructosamine Test A fructosamine test measures blood sugar glucose content. Fructosamine level can indicate blood sugar level in past 2-3…
Period sanitary napkin-menstruaion-blood-colors
Period blood – what it says about your health Your period blood color and consistency indicate what is happening in your body. Is your blood bright red…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
Bronchoscopy procedure
Bronchoscopy Bronchoscopy is a procedure where in a scope is inserted into the lung pathway to observe any growth…
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…
Hibiscus: Nourish your beauty and health with these vibrant blooms Hibiscus is a trumpet shaped flower found abundantly in tropical countries. It has been historically used for its…
Pelvic_ultrasound
Pelvic Ultrasound Pelvic ultrasound is a process where sound waves are used to create image of your pelvic region organs…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
helping friend with depression
Support and care tips for helping people with depression Read to find out what is depression, its causes and symptoms. Also check out the steps describing how…

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