What is Varicocele?

Sperm is produced in the testis, and to maintain healthy sperm production, nothing should disturb the environmental and physiological conditions required for this process.

Varicocele is one of the leading reasons for male-related infertility. In this the veins in the scrotum, become abnormally enlarged (varicose veins), and are painful too.

How common is Varicocele in men?

A fairly common condition, it affects 4 in 10 men with known infertility and, in general, 15 in 100 men.

How does it affect sperm?

The enlargement of these veins that are a direct supply to the testicles is linked to raising the temperature of the testicles or causing blood to back up. How varicoceles affects fertility, is not clear, but there is a definite link that this condition is responsible for damaging or killing the sperm.

The swelling of the veins will raise the temperature of the testis, and the accumulation of blood will result in poor blood flow in the testis, which eventually influences sperm production process in the testis, resulting in low sperm count, low motility and abnormal sperm morphology.

Is there a treatment for Varicocele? Does it help in restoring fertility and improve chances of pregnancy?

Varicocelectomy is a procedure in which the swollen veins are tied off, and the accumulated blood is redirected to the healthy veins. The aim of this procedure is to improve pregnancy rates, but varicocele treatment in infertility is still controversial.

Recent scientific evidence appears to demonstrate that only in selected cases varicocele treatment is beneficial in improving semen parameters and pregnancy rate. 

Alternatively in some cases, IVF/ICSI can be performed with sperm whether taken before or after varicocele treatment.

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