Table of contents:
- Varicocele symptoms
- Main causes
- How to confirm the diagnosis
- How the treatment is done
- Possible complications
A varicocele is a dilatation of the testicles veins that causes blood to accumulate, leading to symptoms such as pain, heaviness and swelling at the site. Usually, it is more frequent in the left testicle, but it can appear on either side, and can even affect both testicles at the same time, being known as bilateral varicocele.
Since varicocele can cause infertility, as the accumulation of blood can decrease the production and quality of sperm, whenever there is a suspicion of this problem, it is important to consult the urologist to start the appropriate treatment and avoid appearance of complications.
Varicocele is curable through surgery, but not all cases can achieve fertility, especially if there is already damage to the structures of the testicles. Find out about other causes that can cause infertility in men.
The most common symptoms of varicocele may include:
- Testicle pain, which can range from discomfort to severe pain;
- Pain that improves when lying on your back;
- Swelling or lump in the testicles;
- Heaviness in the testicles;
There are also cases in which varicocele does not present any symptoms, and therefore can only be diagnosed in routine consultations with the urologist.
See other problems that can cause testicle pain and what to do in each case.
The most likely cause of varicocele is a defect in the valves of the veins present in the scrotum, just above the testes, responsible for regulating the flow of blood to and from the testes.
Therefore, when the blood flow is not normal and the blood "comes back", the veins dilate, resulting in varicocele.
How to confirm the diagnosis
Varicocele can be identified by the doctor through a testicle palpation exam, which should be done lying down and standing up, since in some cases the varicocele may not be felt in certain positions, and it should, for this, make the evaluation in more than one position.
However, an ultrasound may also be necessary to identify in greater detail the affected site and the position of the testicular structures.
How the treatment is done
Treatment for varicocele is usually only recommended when the man has symptoms. Thus, if there is pain or exaggerated swelling, the urologist may indicate the ingestion of analgesic drugs, such as Dipyrone or Ibuprofen, and the use of testicular braces.
However, in cases of infertility, pain that does not improve or problems with testicular functioning, surgery, called varicocelectomy, may be necessary, which eliminates the problem once and for all.
How the surgery is performed
This type of surgery can be done in 3 different ways:
- Open surgery: this is the most classic type of surgery in which the doctor makes a cut in the groin area to observe the varicocele and tie a "knot" in the affected vein, allowing blood to flow only through normal veins;
- Laparoscopy: similar to open surgery, but in this case the doctor makes small cuts in the abdomen and inserts thin tubes through which to repair the varicocele;
- Percutaneous embolization: This is a less common technique in which the doctor inserts a tube through a vein in the groin to the varicocele site, and then releases a fluid that closes the dilated vein of the varicocele.
According to the type of surgery used, recovery time may vary, with open surgery being the longest, followed by laparoscopy and finally by embolization. Learn more about varicocele surgery.
In any type of surgery, it is possible that there may be slight pain and, therefore, comfortable underwear should be worn and ice applied to the site for the first 24 hours, being able to return to normal activities at the end of about 10 days or as directed by your doctor.
When the testicle has a varicocele, it is very common for it to decrease in size over time and become softer, losing function. Although the specific cause of this is not known, it is possible that it is related to increased pressure at the site.
In addition, if the accumulation of blood in the varicocele causes an increase in temperature around the testicles, it is also possible that the quality of the spermatozoa is affected, even in the testicle that is not affected, which can cause infertility situations.