May also be called: Scrotal Varices; Scrotal Varicose Veins
A varicocele (VAR-uh-ko-seel) is an enlargement of the veins in the scrotum.
More to Know
In all males, there's a structure called the spermatic cord that contains
arteries, veins, nerves,
and tubes. It is connected to and circulates blood
to and from the testicles. Veins in the spermatic cord carry blood from the testicles
back to the heart, and valves in the veins regulate the blood flow and keep blood
flowing in the right direction. If the valves fail, some of the blood can flow in
reverse. This backed-up blood can collect in pools in the veins, which then causes
the veins to stretch and swell, resulting in a varicocele.
Varicoceles are fairly common, occurring in about 15% of males 15-25 years old,
mostly during puberty. Varicoceles are usually found on the left side of the scrotum.
Although it's less common, they can sometimes occur on both sides.
Symptoms of a varicocele include discomfort in the testicle, a feeling of heaviness
or dragging in the scrotum, and dilated veins in the scrotum that can feel like worms
Varicoceles are generally harmless, but some experts believe that occasionally
they might damage the testicle or decrease sperm production. In those cases, a doctor
will probably recommend surgery to treat the problem.
Keep in Mind
Most varicoceles don't require treatment and cause no symptoms. When treatment
is recommended, it's usually successful at increasing sperm production and preventing
further damage to the testicle.
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