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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immunoglobulin M
Immunoglobulin M Test Immunoglobulin M is the largest and the first produced antibody which helps in the prevention or fighting of…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
Hepatitis A virus infected liver
Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Total Blood test to look for IgM antibodies to know if you are infected with Hepatitis A virus (HAV),…
C-Reactive Protein Test A CRP or c-reactive protein blood test is an important diagnostic tool used to determine the risk of…
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…
chloride test
Chloride Test A chloride test of the blood checks the level of chloride in body, an important factor governing the…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
cardiolipin antibody igm
Cardiolipin Antibody (ACL) –IgM Test This particular test measures the level of IgM type antibodies in the blood by using the ELISHA test…
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…
ASTtest-liver
AST- Aspartate Aminotransferase Test AST test is a blood test that is used to measure the level of a particular liver enzyme…
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?…
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…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
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?…
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…
antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic Resistance: How common diseases become deadly Can a cold kill you? How important is to get a flu shot? Why do antibiotics fail against…
toxo gondii igm test
Toxo Gondii-IgM Test The toxo gondii IgM test is a blood test that tells the presence or absence of toxoplasmosis IgM…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Top reasons why you need to pay attention to your vitamin B6 intake Vitamin B6- An essential water-soluble vitamin. Its deficiency leads to physical changes such as sores & glossy tongue…
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…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
PROLACTIN-(PRL)
Prolactin Test (PRL) Prolactin or PRL is a lactogenic hormone produced to induce milk production in lactating mothers. PRL test measures…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
carbamazepine
Carbamazepine / Tegretol test The carbamazepine is a drug that is used to treat epilepsy and the carbamazepine test is performed to…
Helicobacter pylori IGA
Helicobacter Pylori – IgA Test The H.pylori IgA test is a blood test used to identify the level of IgA antigen in the…
Sharpen your brain with these top brain-friendly foods! Did you know your diet could decide how razor sharp your memory is? Or that what you eat…
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…
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…
Cayenne: The remarkable benefits of these red hot chili peppers These may make you rush for a glass of water, but cayenne pepper is actually a healthy additive…
labiaplasty
Labiaplasty Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure to modify the labia minora and the labia majora. Learn about who can…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
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…
Cardiolipin Antibody (ACL) –IgG Test The cardiolipin antibody IgG are responsible for the abnormal formation of clots in veins and arteries or phlebitis…
piles
Best treatment for piles in Bangalore All you need to know about piles and piles treatment in Bangalore - the types of treatment available,…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
free testosterone test
Free testosterone Free Testosterone Test measures and monitors the level of the free testosterone in the blood. Less than 4%…
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…
anti-chlamydia antibody tets
Anti-Chlamydia Antibody -IgG Test Anti-Chlamydia Antibody - IgG test is performed by collection of urine or genital fluids as sample for testing…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
stress adverse effects
Fight, flight, or freeze: 8 ways stress can ruin your body Did you know that stress is in-built in our systems? It helped our ancestors respond to danger. How…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
Gua sha: Scraping away layers of pain with this ancient healing tool Gua sha is an ancient oriental healing method which focuses on scraping the body with specific tools to…
hsv-igg
Herpes simplex virus (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody which stays in the blood…
Jackfruit: Slice your way into higher immunity, better digestion, & more… Native to the South East Asia, the jackfruit is a fruit brimming with thousands of health benefits. Discover…
Olive Leaf Extract: The healthy goodness of olives in a capsule Olive oil is not the only gift from the Olea Europea tree. Olive leaf extract itself is a…

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