Womens Health

Varicocele Treatment: A Way to Improve Male Fertility

Varicocele is a type of varicose vein that forms in a man's testes, when the valves in the veins weaken, disrupting the flow of blood. This causes the blood to pool in the vein, enlarging the vein and causing it to bulge. When these enlarged bulging veins appear on the testicles, they produce a variety of symptoms from discomfort and pain to testicle shrinkage and infertility. Men who suffer from varicocele may have trouble trying to conceive a child with their partner because varicocele affects the male's reproductive system. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, your doctor may offer a variety of treatments from non-surgical to surgical procedures that will relief the symptoms of varicocele and increase the odds of your partner getting pregnant.

Non-Surgical Treatments

Non-surgical treatments, such as athletic support or close-fitting underwear to provide support to the scrotum are suitable for men who suffer from mild symptoms of varicocele. Men can also undergo a varicocele embolization to help soothe the pressure placed on the veins while regulating the blood flow. Embolization is performed on an outpatient basis under a local anesthetic. During embolization, your doctor will place a small tube into your groin through a small nick in the skin. Sometimes the tube can be inserted from the right side of the neck. Tiny coils are then inserted into the affected veins through the use of small catheter under the guidance of x-ray imaging and a venogram (an x-ray map that is created by the use of a dye). When the coils are in place, they block the blood flow to the affected veins. Once the blood flow is blocked, the pressure in the veins lessens. The doctor will remove the catheter, and let you go home within a few hours. Recovery from this procedure generally takes less than a day and patients often resume work the next day.

Surgical Treatments

In more severe cases of varicocele, where men suffer from testicular damage or infertility, surgery may be the best choice of treatment. The most common type of surgery is varicocelectomy, where the varicose veins are tied off and the blood flow is re-directed through unaffected veins. Two common methods of varicoceletomy include surgical ligation and laparoscopy.

Pregnancy After Treatment

Sperm quality, motility and count may improve slightly after surgery. However, male fertility doesn't return to full capacity immediately after surgery. Instead three or more months is needed before fertility is restored. For this reason, a fertility specialist will perform two sperm analysis, one three or four months after the surgery and one six months after the surgery to check for sperm quality. Typically 43% to 50% of men who undergo treatment for varicocele will be able to get their partner pregnant within the first year.

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