Varicoceles are a common occurrence in men. Approximately 10% males develop a varicocele some time or the other.
Sometimes Varicoceles do not cause much discomfort and are relatively harmless and do not need to be treated. However, Varicoceles can also cause problems like atrophy (shrinkage) and fertility problems and hence need to be treated.
A varicocele forms when the valves in the veins that support the testes and carry blood to the heart malfunction, and there is a reverse blood flow. The result is that these veins get distended which results in varicose veins in the testes.
As mentioned earlier, having a varicocele may or may not cause problems, depending on the extent to which it has developed. However, usually it can cause the following problems:
Pain: This is the most obvious disadvantage. Pain while sitting, standing for a long time may be experienced. Increased pain may be experienced while lifting weights. Sometimes, Varicoceles can be actually caused by lifting weights.
Fertility Problems: Due to the increased temperature of the testes as a result of varicocele, production of sperms may be restricted causing fertility problems.
Psychological Effect: Once a person is aware that he has a varicocele, he is likely to experience anxiety until the condition is treated. This can interfere with the normal life of the individual.
Pain in the Scrotum: This is not a necessary side-effect of a varicocele, but one of the symptoms. The pain may radiate to other areas adjacent to the genital region. This may occur after sitting or standing in the same position for a long period of time.
Decreased Sperm Count: If it is observed that men who are undergoing fertility treatment have a low sperm count, one of the possible side-effects is a varicocele.
Increased Temperature of the Testicles: The testicles of a person who has a varicocele will be a slightly higher temperature than normal. This is a common side-effect of a varicocele.
Atrophy of the Testicles: Another sign of varicocele is shrinking of the testicles, known as atrophy. This condition is common among adolescent boys. One testicle may appear smaller that the other, but may regain its original size if the varicocele is repaired.
Even though a varicocele is not a life-threatening condition, it can cause a lot of inconvenience. Therefore, if these basic side-effects are noticed, a doctor should be consulted to decide whether further treatment is required.