Varicocele is a condition in the testicular region of males. Varicocele occurs when the veins in the cord that holds up a man’s testicles get abnormally enlarged. This can occur due to malfunctioning of the valves within the veins on the spermatic cord. Due to this, the blood fails to flow smoothly, causing varicose veins (a similar kind of condition occurs in the veins of the legs).
A varicocele normally takes a long time to develop. This condition is most likely to occur in the age group from 15 to 25 years of age. Varicoceles have the tendency to develop on the left side of the scrotum. Varicoceles are a common cause of infertility in men.
Even though varicoceles are expected to develop in younger men, they can also develop in older men. In this case, the possible cause of a varicocele developing could be a kidney tumor, which has the capacity to block the flow of blood to the veins. In this case also, there is a maximum tendency for a varicocele developing on the left side of the scrotum.
The word “varicocele” comes from the Latin words “varic” or “varix” which means a long vein or vessel which is abnormally swollen and “kele” which is Latin for tumor. Varicocele is among the earliest medical conditions in the history of mankind.
The term varicocele was however coined much later in the 1800s by a British surgeon by the name of Thomas Curling. The alternative term “cirsocele” however continued to be used however until 1913. It was only in the 1950s that the potential damage from varicoceles was acknowledged along with extensive research for the treatment of this condition. Today, varicocele in men is easily identifiable and treatable as a standard surgical procedure.
There are two major categories of varicocele, shunt type and pressure type. The type of varicocele depends on the nature of the blockage and whether it is localized or spreading to other parts of the genital region. Each type is described below:
Shunt Type Varicocele: This occurs when there is a form of retrograde filling of the internal spermatic vein which causes the varicocele. Collaterals are formed in adjoining veins like the external and internal iliac veins.
Pressure Type Varicocele: This is when the retrograde filling is of a milder form in the internal spermatic vein and the varicocele is formed, but without collaterals to the iliac veins.