Varicoceles are enlarged veins that develop in the scrotum, a problem that affects 15% of all men and increases their risk of male infertility. J. Abram McBride, MD, has extensive experience performing the primary treatment for varicoceles: surgical varicocele repair. If you have questions about varicoceles or need treatment to relieve pain or improve your fertility, call his office in Colorado Springs, Colorado, or schedule an appointment online.
A varicocele develops when veins inside your scrotum become enlarged and engorged with blood. Varicoceles are like varicose veins, except they occur in the network of veins designed to drain blood from your testicles.
By removing blood, these veins serve the important job of lowering the temperature inside your testicles. Your testicular temperature must stay lower than your body temperature for normal sperm production and maturation.
Varicoceles block blood flow, allowing more blood to stay in the testicle. This boosts the temperature and leads to male infertility.
Many men don’t have symptoms at first, but as the veins enlarge, they become more visible, and they’re often described as feeling like a bag of worms. Though you may develop varicoceles in either testicle, they’re most likely to appear on the left side.
Varicoceles don’t typically cause pain, but you may feel:
Infertility may be one of the first signs of existing varicoceles. Four out of 10 men with infertility receive the diagnosis of varicoceles.
Varicoceles develop when valves in the vein that normally keep blood flowing in one direction become weak or damaged and allow blood to flow backward. When this happens, blood accumulates in the vein, leading to enlarged veins.
Over-the-counter pain relievers can help with the pain of varicoceles. Otherwise, the primary treatment is surgical varicocele repair.
During surgery, Dr. McBride blocks blood flow in the affected veins. He has two surgical options. He may do a microscopic varicocelectomy and close off all the veins in your scrotum, or a laparoscopic varicocelectomy, in which he ties off the veins in your abdomen.
Microscopic surgery takes about 2-3 hours, compared to 45 minutes for the laparoscopic approach. However, microscopic surgery reduces your risk of recurring varicoceles.
Dr. McBride may also talk with you about another treatment option called percutaneous embolization. This procedure uses coils, plugs, or medication to create scarring that blocks blood flow through the veins.
If you notice varicoceles or develop scrotal pain, call J. Abram McBride, MD, or schedule an appointment online.