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Varicocele and FertilAid for Men
A varicocele is an abnormal enlargement of the veins in the scrotum. Veins are the blood vessels that are responsible for carrying blood from the body back toward the heart. (Arteries, on the other hand, are blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to other parts of the body). Veins contain valves that keep blood flowing in the proper direction. But, when these valves fail, blood is allowed to flow backward and pool in the veins, which causes the veins to stretch and swell. When this occurs in the legs, it produces varicose veins. When it occurs in the scrotum, it produces a varicocele.
Varicoceles appear in about 15% of men between 15 and 25 years old, and most often develop during puberty. During puberty, the testicles grow very quickly and require an increased supply of blood. If the valves in the veins in the scrotum do not function optimally, the veins will struggle to transport the extra blood away from the testicles and blood will back up, thereby creating a varicocele. It is interesting to note that because the blood flow on the left side of the scrotum is greater, varicoceles tend to occur more frequently in the left testicle.
Approximately 40% of all infertile men have a varicocele. And, interestingly, as many as 80% of men with secondary infertility (those who have fathered a child, but are struggling with fertility issues in trying to conceive a second child) have a varicocele. It is not known precisely how or why varicoceles negatively impact fertility. One theory is that the pooled blood increases the temperature in the testicles, which ultimately decreases sperm count.
In many cases, a varicocele will cause no symptoms and may go undetected for many years. Some men only discover that they have a varicocele during the course of fertility testing. On the other hand, some men do experience symptoms, which tend to occur more frequently during hot weather, after exercise, or after sitting or standing for a long time. Such symptoms include:
- a dull ache in the testicle(s)
- a feeling of heaviness or dragging in the scrotum
- dilated veins in the scrotum that can be felt (described as feeling like worms or spaghetti)
- the testicle is smaller on the side where the dilated veins are (due to difference in blood flow)
If you are struggling with infertility issues, and you are diagnosed with a varicocele, you may be advised to have the varicocele repaired. There are two ways to repair a varicocele: varicocelectomy and varicocele embolization. A varicocelectomy is an out-patient surgery performed by an urologist. The surgeon makes a cut in the lower abdomen and ties off the vein that is not functioning properly so that the flow of blood is redirected to other normal veins. A varicocele embolization is also an out-patient procedure, in which a small incision is made, and a small hollow tube (called a catheter) is inserted into the problematic vein.
But, before you decide to have your varicocele repaired, we recommend that you do some research. Not all fertility experts agree that varicocele repair improves male fertility (including sperm count) or increases pregnancy rates. And, varicocele repair can cause some side effects, including infection at the site of surgery, fluid buildup in the scrotum that requires draining, and/or injury to the arteries or nerves in the scrotum.
The most significant fertility-related problem associated with varicocele is low sperm count. Whether or not you decide to have your varicocele repaired, taking FertilAid for Men may help improve sperm count. The following reviews were submitted by actual FertilAid customers with varicoceles.