Causes of Infertility: Varicocele

One of the many causes of infertility is varicocele. Varicoceles usually affect males between the ages of 15 and 30. They rarely occur in men over the age of 40. Varicoceles are the cause of nearly 40% of male infertility problems. In the more severe cases, diagnosis of a varicocele can be determined by palpation. Some varicoceles may need to be detected by an ultrasound.

What Is a Varicocele?

A varicocele is an enlargement of the vein located inside the scrotum which drains into the testicles. This can happen if the valves in the veins of the spermatic cord are not working as they should. This process can cause damage to the testicular tissue. A varicocele can cause a lot of pain in the testicles, leading to a feeling of heaviness or shrinking of the testes.

Why Varicoceles Cause Infertility

A varicocele can cause infertility by causing blockage of the seminal glands. By not allowing enough blood flow to the glands it can cause a decline in semen production. Not all men with varicoceles have infertility problems. If a male has only one varicocele it may not cause problems. When a man has a bilateral varicocele, affecting both testes, then the risk of infertility increases dramatically.

Determining Infertility

The best way to determine if one has infertility problems from a varicocele is to have a semen analysis. This is where they take a sample of semen and check it for quantity, quality and the count. This is a simple test.

Treatment of Varicocele

There are few different types of treatment available. Depending on the size and the severity of the varicocele, treatment may be as simple as wearing tight fitting underwear or a jock strap. Wearing tight underwear will give more support to the testes, therefore helping the varicocele to diminish.

Another more invasive treatment is a varicocele embolization. During this procedure the patient will be given a local anesthetic and a catheter is placed in the groin. The doctor will then move the catheter into the varicocele. The doctor does this by the use of an x-ray. After the catheter has been placed, a coil is wrapped around the varicocele and the blood is then redirected into other veins.

The most invasive procedure is a varicocelectomy. A varicocelectomy is a procedure in which the varicocele is totally tied off. During this procedure the patient is given anesthesia and then the doctor will cut into the abdomen and completely tie off the vein. This is the most invasive procedure and will require the most recovery time. This treatment is required in the most severe cases.

If you are having fertility problems and have a varicocele it is best to talk to your doctor to see if you are a good candidate for repair. The treatment may be simple. Many men wait too long to talk to their doctor and then it can be too late, because they may all ready be facing fertility problems.

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