Is Infertility in men related to varicocele?

Varicocele in men

Varicocele is the condition is that veins within the scrotum get enlarged. Many men have enlarged veins in the scrotum. Varicoceles are common, affecting %10 to %15 of men. Many men with varicoceles have no symptoms, but some may have fertility issues.


Doctors aren’t sure what causes this condition. It could be a problem with blood flow in the spermatic cord, which carries blood to and from your testicles. If valves inside the veins in the cord don’t work like they should, the blood backs up and the veins get wider.


Individuals with varicocele usually do not have signs and the disease is diagnosed by the doctor accidentally during examination. Varicoceles rarely hurt. If yours does cause pain, it might:

  • Switch from dull to sharp
  • Get worse when you stand or exert yourself, especially for a long time
  • Become more intense as the day goes on
  • Go away when you lie on your back


You and the doctor may be able to feel the mass easily. If not, the doctor might ask you to stand, take a deep breath, and hold it while you bear down. It helps him feel enlarged veins. If the exam isn’t enough to be sure, he might take an ultrasound of your scrotum.


Not all varicoceles require treatment. It’s mostly done if: You’re in pain or problems fathering a child.  If you do need treatment, the goal will be to tie off or remove the veins that supply blood to your spermatic cord. You might need to have open surgery.

Varicocele and male infertility

The link between varicoceles and male infertility has been a matter of debate for more than half a century. Varicocele is considered the most common correctable cause of male infertility, but some men with varicoceles are able to father children, even without intervention. In addition, improvements in semen quality after varicocelectomy do not always result in spontaneous pregnancy. Most men who have varicoceles do not have fertility problems. Infertility rates among those with varicoceles, however, are higher than those without them. This difference may be because varicoceles interfere with the body’s ability to make and store sperm. A study in 2014 indicates that almost one third of men with infertility have varicocele. This frequency suggests that varicoceles are sometimes, but not always, a factor in infertility. When a couple cannot conceive, it is vital to do a variety of tests, including a sperm count, and not assume that a varicocele is necessarily the sole cause.


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