What is a Varicocele and How Do You Treat It?
Until recently, when a couple was having difficulty with fertility, the finger was always pointed at the female. Research has indicated that this is not always the case. More and more couples are finding out that some of their infertility troubles stem from the male. A common incidence of male infertility has been linked to varicoceles.
What is a Varicocele?
You’ve probably heard of “varicose veins”, veins typically in the legs that become swollen and often times painful. This is essentially what a varicocele is, except the veins are located within a man’s scrotum and not his legs.
In the natural order of things, blood flows towards the heart through a series of one-way valves. These one way valves prevent blood from pooling or collecting in areas. When a male is experiencing a varicocele, the one-way valves are faulty. This faulty valve causes blood to back up in the testis. There is some evidence to suggest that the increased pooling of blood in the testis causes the temperatures to rise, thus killing sperm.
Causes of Varicoceles
Varicoceles are caused by faulty one way valves with in the vein that carries deoxygenated blood away from the scrotum. Varicoceles are more common among young men; typically under the age of 35.
Symptoms for varicoceles vary between each individual. Some males develop a lump which is painful. Some males develop a lump that is painless. In some instances, a male could have a varicocele and not even be aware of it due to lack of symptoms.
Treatment for varicoceles depends on the individual male and doctor recommendation. There are currently two treatment methods available in the United States to treat a varicoceles.
The first treatment option is called varicocelectomy or surgical removal of the varicoceles. This treatment option involves a surgical incision, made into the body to remove the varicoceles. This option is considered invasive and could require a somewhat lengthy recovery time.
The second treatment option is called varicocele embolization. With varicocele embolization, a tiny catheter is inserted into the blood vessel leading to the testes. Once the catheter is inserted, a doctor can place a small coil or other object to obstruct the blood flow to the varicocele. The blood is then forced to drain through another blood vessel. The recovery time is minimal and possible complications are less than with the surgical option.
Couples who have been attempting to get pregnant with no success after several months of trying should seek an evaluation from their doctor to determine the cause of the fertility issue.