Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert.
As you get older, you might find that you encounter many health issues that you’ve never even heard of or considered when you were younger.
One of these health issues is varicocele, which can present itself throughout a man’s life. As varicocele are present in the scrotum, they affect only men, but they can cause some health problems that affect couples.
If you learn that you have varicoceles, then you might wonder if they can cause infertility. After all, the testicles are vital to the production of sperm, which fertilizes the egg and creates the embryo.
So, you might think that varicoceles are a serious issue, particularly if you’re planning on having a baby in the near future.
To help, we’ve put together this article about varicoceles and how they affect male fertility and what you can do about them.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What Are Varicoceles?
- What Are The Symptoms Of Varicoceles?
- Can Varicoceles Cause Infertility?
- How Can You Treat Varicoceles?
Here is a guide to how varicocele can cause problems with your fertility and what you can do about them so that you can start on your journey towards parenthood.
What Are Varicoceles?
Varicoceles are enlarged veins in the loose bag of skin around your testicles, known as the scrotum. The veins are similar to the varicose veins that many people get in their legs and arms.
The issue is common, with up tp 30% of infertile couples being affected by the condition. Varicoceles are particularly common among adolescent men, but they can affect men at any time of life.
Usually, they affect the left testicle, but they can affect the right as well. Varicoceles are not life-threatening and usually only cause mild discomfort.
It has been reported that men who are over the age of 30 with untreated varicoceles suffer from a considerably lower amount of testosterone compared to younger men with the condition.
Often, men don’t experience any symptoms at all and only find out that they have varicoceles during routine health checks.
What Are The Symptoms Of Varicoceles?
As mentioned above, many men don’t notice that they have varicoceles until their doctor tells them they’ve got them, but there are some symptoms.
These symptoms include:
- Dull aching in one or both testicles
- Heaviness in your scrotum or the feeling like it’s dragging downwards
- Dilated veins that feel like wriggling worms in the scrotum
- A lump in one of your testicles
- Swelling of the scrotum
- Visibly enlarged veins in your scrotum
- One testicle appears larger than the other
This list isn’t exhaustive: there are other, rarer symptoms that can occur which could lead to hypogonadism, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and even osteoporosis.
Watch out for any changes in your testicles and scrotum, and be aware of any symptoms, however mild.
If you notice one or more of these symptoms, or anything unusual in your testicular area, then you need to visit your doctor immediately. Some of these symptoms could mean varicoceles or other, more serious testicular disorders, such as cancer.
Therefore, you need to get the issue checked out by your doctor to ensure that it’s not something more dangerous and that you alleviate the discomfort as soon as possible.
Can Varicoceles Cause Infertility?
As sperm is produced in the testicles and varicoceles affect the skin around them, the enlarged veins can cause temporary infertility.
That’s because the enlarged veins could cause the area around the testicles to become warmer, and this could lead to lower sperm mobility and reduced sperm production.
If you develop varicoceles when you’re young, then they could also cause your testicles to develop slower than usual or to be smaller than normal.
Research from the Journal of Urology demonstrates that surgery to treat varicoceles improves sperm concentration and overall motility.
Furthermore, there is little evidence available that suggests varicoceles will continue to cause infertility for men who have normal sperm health.
How Can You Treat Varicoceles?
For most men, surgery is the best way to treat varicoceles. The procedure involves sealing off the affected vein or veins to redirect the blood to other veins.
This approach helps the swollen vein to get smaller and for the blood flow to even out throughout the veins in your scrotum.
There is also a non-surgical treatment option for varicoceles, which is known as Percutaneous Embolization. A radiologist can inject a contrasting colored dye, which can be identified on an X-ray. Doctors can then use coils or plugs, which are inserted via needles to block blood flow to the affected veins.
This approach is non-surgical and less invasive than surgical treatments for varicoceles. Your doctor can advise you on the best option for you.
While there are no pills that can help with the symptoms of varicoceles, if you feel pain or discomfort, then an anti-inflammatory pain killer such as Ibuprofen can help you to reduce the issues in the short term.
In the long run, you’ll need to consider surgery or Percutaneous Embolization to fix the issue and ensure that the varicoceles don’t cause infertility issues.
In many cases, varicoceles can reoccur after treatment, so watch out for any reoccurrence of symptoms and inform your doctor of any history of varicoceles if you’re experiencing ongoing infertility.
Varicoceles can cause fertility issues, but they can easily be treated with surgery. In the future, you should be able to conceive a child, but you might find some issues arise if you have abnormal semen parameters.
That’s because, once the varicoceles are gone, you might still find that you experience fertility problems due to the stress your body has been under during the procedure.
Thankfully, there are many ways to improve your fertility and motivation naturally. These include taking dedicated dietary supplements, such as Fertiligy.
We developed our unique product to help boost your fertility and give your body the nutrients it needs to function optimally.
If you have any further issues, then you should consult your doctor. You can also check out online resources to learn more about male fertility and the factors that impact it.