A varicocele is a varicosity of the pampiniform venous plexus in the scrotum. Symptoms may include pain within scrotum and scrotal heaviness.
Most varicoceles are asymptomatic; however, they may cause pain that varies from mild discomfort to a severe sharp pain. It is a dull, congestive, tooth-ache like pain and is not associated with urination problems or erectile dysfunction. Pain increases with standing and physical exertion over long periods of time and worsens over the course of a day. The pain is usually relieved by lying down.
When it enlarges, the varicocele can cause a clumpy “bag of worms” feel in the scrotum. Typically, painful varicoceles are prominent in size. A decreased sperm count, decreased motility of sperm and increase in the temperature due to varicoceles usually result in infertility in men. Testicular atrophy may also be seen in young boys at puberty.
The gold standard way to diagnose varicocele is by physical examination. About 95 percent of varicoceles are found on the left side of the scrotum. The general physical examination of a patient in standing position reveal a tender, non twisted mass above the testicle.
If large enough, it can be felt as a bag of worms. If a varicocele is small, it can be felt by asking the patient to take a deep breath and hold it (Valsalva maneuver). The testicles may be shrunken in size.
During palpation, a varicocele must be differentiated from the lipoma of the cord. Unlike a varicocele, a lipoma will not go away when the patient lies down.
A noninvasive imaging exam called color flow ultrasound or a venogram can often be used to detect a varicocele, if not diagnosed through the physical examination.
Varicocele treatment may not be necessary until it causes pain, testicular atrophy or infertility in men. There are both surgical and non-surgical options available to treat a varicocele. The purpose of treatment is to seal off affected veins to redirect the blood flow into normal veins.
Varicoceles may be harmless but in some cases they can cause infertility and pain. About 2% to 5% of patients develop a condition called hydrocele. There are studies showing improvement in sperm quality in 57% of the cases after varicocelectomy. Recurrences are common and occur in 5% to 20% of the cases.
Varicoceles usually develop in men older than 40 years of age due to blockage of large veins higher in abdomen. The major risk factors associated with varicocele include obesity and tumor masses such as kidney tumor. Both of these conditions cause pressure on the veins which can block blood flow to the veins.
The majority of varicoceles develop in teenagers and young men and are not due to a serious condition. There may also be a genetic cause of varicocele as the condition occurs usually in individuals of the same family.
Varicoceles are a relatively common condition affecting approximately 10 percent of men. These are more common in young men, usually during the second and third decade of life.
About 40 percent cases of infertility in men occur due to varicoceles. Nine out of ten varicoceles develop in the left testicles, although it can be bilateral at the same time. The prevalence of varicocele may be as high as 80%.
A varicocele forms when the valves inside the veins in the spermatic cord do not function properly. In healthy veins within the scrotum, one-way valves allow blood to flow from testicles and scrotum back to the heart. In varicoceles, the poor functioning valves and increased resistance to blood flow result in increased venous pressure. This can cause dilation and tortuosity of the pampiniform plexus, which is a network of veins that drain the testicle.
One of the main functions of the plexus is to lower the temperature of the testicles; varicoceles cause this function to be lost and lead to a higher temperature of the testes causing testicular atrophy. Due to reduction in the supply of oxygenated blood and nutrient material to the sperm production sites, the quality and the quantity of the sperms is affected, causing infertility in men .
A secondary varicocele is due to compression of the venous drainage of the testicle  . The most common cause is renal cell carcinoma. One non-malignant cause of a secondary varicocele is Nut-cracker syndrome, a condition in which superior mesenteric artery compresses the left renal vein causing increased pressure to be transmitted into the left pampiniform plexus.
A varicocele cannot be prevented from developing; however, the preventive measures that can be helpful include self-monitoring, regular checking of testicles every month knowing what they look and feel like, and look for any change in the shape and size of scrotum.
As high temperatures can trigger a wide veins around the testicles, so being in a room with high temperature continuously must be avoided. Moreover, it is recommended to wear special pants as protector and avoid too much wear jeans or tights. The activities such as unskilled labor, heavy weight lifting must be avoided to prevent varicoceles.
The condition is usually characterized by visible veins and feeling of heaviness in the testicle. Varicoceles are a common cause of infertility in men due to poor quality of the sperms that are produced in this disorder.
Varicoceles are observed in 15% of the male population and are generally acquired during puberty. If a varicocele causes symptoms, it can be repaired surgically.
Varicocele is the swelling of veins inside the scrotum. The condition is common in young boys at puberty and men older than 40 years of age. The patients usually present with visible enlarged veins, pain within the scrotum and feeling of heaviness in the testicle. It can be treated by surgical procedure.