Varicocele is a condition characterized by the enlargement of the veins located inside the scrotum – the loose sac that contains the testicles. These veins are responsible for transporting deoxygenated blood from the testicles. When the blood accumulates in the veins instead of flowing out of the scrotum, it results in the formation of a varicocele.
Usually beginning with adolescence, varicoceles grow over time. They may be uncomfortable or painful, although they frequently have no symptoms or complications. Varicoceles can vary in size, with larger ones sometimes having a resemblance to a sack of spaghetti and causing mild aches and discomfort. On the other hand, smaller varicoceles may not be easily detectable through either physical examination or visible appearance.
Varicoceles, in and of themselves, are generally not considered to be dangerous. However, if you are trying to conceive a biological child, having a varicocele can potentially pose a significant risk. A varicocele may result in poor testicular growth, inadequate sperm production, or other issues that could result in infertility. To address these issues, varicocele surgery may be suggested.
Varicoceles commonly occur on the left side of the scrotum and often do not present any noticeable symptoms. However, some potential signs and symptoms that may suggest the presence of a varicocele include:
- Pain. Standing or later in the day are more likely to cause a dull, throbbing pain or discomfort. Often, pain is relieved by lying down.
- A mass in the scrotum. A lump resembling a “bag of worms” may be discernible above the testicle if a varicocele is sufficiently large. A tiny varicocele can not be seen but may be detectable by touch.
- Varied sized testicles. The testicle that is afflicted could be visibly smaller than the other testicle.
- Infertility. While some varicoceles can make it difficult to become a parent, not all of them do.
Boys should get yearly check-ups to ensure the health and growth of their testicles. It’s crucial to make and adhere to these appointments.
Scrotal pain, swelling, or the presence of a mass can be indicative of various medical conditions, and it is recommended to seek medical attention if any of these symptoms are experienced. Visiting a doctor promptly can help ensure an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.
Two testicular arteries, one on each side of the scrotum, supply the testicles with oxygen-rich blood. The two testicular veins function similarly, returning oxygen-depleted blood to the heart. The oxygen-depleted blood from the testicle is transported to the main testicular vein through a network of tiny veins (pampiniform plexus) in each side of the scrotum. The pampiniform plexus is enlarged in a varicocele.
A varicocele’s precise cause is uncertain. The veins’ internal valves, which are meant to keep blood flowing in the appropriate direction, may be a contributing factor. Additionally, the left testicular vein has a little different path than the right vein, which increases the likelihood of a blood flow issue on the left.
The accumulation of oxygen-depleted blood causes the network of veins dilates and develops the varicocele.
No obvious major risk factors for varicocele development are present. Varicoceles can occur in individuals of any age who possess testicles. Many medical experts believe that many varicoceles are present from birth. Varicoceles often become apparent during teenage years. It is thought that the increase in blood flow to the genital area during puberty may contribute to the development of varicoceles.
Your body may find it hard to control the temperature of the testicles if you have a varicocele. Toxin accumulation and oxidative damage may occur. The following issues could be exacerbated by these factors:
- Poor testicular health. A varicocele in a boy going through puberty may prevent the growth of the testicles, the production of hormones, and other aspects of the testicle’s health and function. A varicocele in a man may cause progressive shrinking as a result of tissue loss.
- Infertility. Not all varicoceles result in infertility. According to estimates, 10% to 20% of men with varicocele have trouble fathering a child. About 40% of men with infertility issues have a varicocele.