Varicocele is a medical condition that affects the veins in the scrotum, causing them to become enlarged and dilated. This condition is similar to varicose veins that can occur in the legs. While varicocele is a common condition, affecting up to 15% of males, it can have a significant impact on fertility.
How Does Varicocele Affect Fertility?
Varicocele can negatively affect fertility in several ways. The veins in the scrotum contain blood that has been warmed by the body, and this blood can be several degrees warmer than the testicles. This increased temperature can reduce sperm production and function, leading to decreased fertility.
In addition, varicoceles can cause a backup of blood within the veins, which can increase pressure and reduce blood flow to the testicles. This can lead to testicular damage, reduced sperm count, and abnormal sperm morphology and motility, all of which can decrease fertility.
It is estimated that up to 40% of men with infertility issues have a varicocele. However, not all varicoceles have a significant impact on fertility, and the severity of the condition does not always correlate with the degree of fertility impairment.
What Are the Treatment Options for Varicocele and Fertility?
If you suspect that you may have a varicocele, it is important to consult a urologist for an accurate diagnosis and to discuss treatment options. Treatment options for varicoceles in men with infertility issues may include surgical repair or embolization of the affected veins to improve blood flow and reduce the impact of the varicocele on fertility.
Surgical repair of varicocele involves making a small incision in the scrotum and tying off or removing the affected veins. Embolization involves inserting a catheter into a blood vessel and using a coil or special fluid to block blood flow to the affected veins.
In some cases, treatment of varicocele may not be necessary, particularly if it is not causing significant symptoms or impacting fertility. However, it is important to monitor the condition over time to ensure that it does not worsen and begin to impact fertility.
With the right treatment, many men with varicocele and fertility issues can achieve successful outcomes and improve their chances of conception.