A varicocele is a widening of the veins along the cord that holds up a man's testicles (spermatic cord).
Causes, incidence, and risk factors: A varicocele forms when valves inside the veins along the spermatic cord prevent blood from flowing properly. This causes the blood to back up, leading to swelling and widening of the veins. (This is essentially the same process that leads to varicose veins, which are common in the legs.)
Varicoceles usually develop slowly. They are more common in men ages 15 - 25 and are most often seen on the left side of the scrotum.
Enlarged, twisted veins in the scrotum
Painless testicle lump, scrotal swelling, or bulge in the scrotum.
There may not be symptoms.
Signs and tests: The health care provider will examine the groin area, including the scrotum and testicles. The health care provider may feel a twisted growth along the spermatic cord. (It feels like a bag of worms.) In some cases the man is recommended to have a scrotal ultrasound to determine along with the physical exam to rule out a varicocele.
However, the growth may not be able to be seen or felt, especially when you are lying down. My husband only noticed a lump AFTER being told that the Dr. felt it.
The testicle on the side of the varicocele may be smaller than the one on the other side.
Treatment: A jock strap (scrotal support) or snug underwear may help relieve the pain or discomfort. If pain continues or other symptoms occur, you may need further treatment.
Surgery to correct a varicocele is called varicocelectomy. You will leave the hospital on the same day as your surgery. During this procedure, you will receive some type of numbing medication (anesthesia). The urologist will make a cut, usually in the lower abdomen, and tie off the abnormal veins. Blood will now flow around the area into normal veins. Keep an ice pack on the area for the first 24 hours after surgery to reduce swelling.
After the procedure, you will be told to place ice on the area and wear a scrotal support for a little while. Good luck woman this can be quite painful for you...(you know what I mean)
Prognosis: A varicocele is usually harmless and often does not need to be treated but at the same time when all test come back normal and you have primary or secondary or undetermined infertility you will try anything. I would push for surgery if there is even a remote possibility that the "Man" has a varicocele. My husbands urologist told us flat out that he did not think the varicocele was the problem be cause he thought it was small and I told him somewhat sternly that we had done everything else to please consider doing the surgery and the doctor agreed. After surgery the doctor told me that the varicocele was larger than he thought but he was still not verbally encouraging that this was the answer. However, 4 months later I conceived the first of my 3 girls that are all 14 months apart from each other. I tend to think the surgery FIXED the problem. Doing ultrasound for a living most Urologist that send men to get an ultrasound ( scrotal sonogram ) write on the RX Script Infertility. So first things first, lets get your husband to a Urologist ( a Doctor that is specific to find out about your husbands roll in this fertility issue. The second is not to go by a simple lab specimen analysis. You want to know count, but motility and morphology is equally important.
If you have surgery, your sperm count will likely increase and it can improve your chances of getting pregnant. In my case it did and when you are in Infertility Mode anything is better than nothing.
There are alway risks when surgery is done, however, sometimes the benefits weigh out the risks. Varicoceles are more common than you think. Even if you had a first child without any complications. It is worth the doctor visit. I would also ask your urologist to have an Andrologist analyze the specimen.
If you have any injury to the scrotum or nearby blood vessel call your health care provider.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you discover a testicle lump or need to treat a diagnosed varicocele.