A varicocele is a swelling in the veins above the testicle. Often, they are compared to varicose veins that occur in legs. The swelling occurs when too much blood collects in the veins. This swelling is due to incompetent venous valves in the spermatic cord. It has been documented that varicoceles are typically found on the left side. Varicoceles are diagnosed in men as well as pubescent boys. In most cases, a varicocele is not a serious problem.
Most patients do not have symptoms of a varicocele, but it can cause a dull ache or pulling sensation in the left scrotum. The discomfort may be worse later in the day after standing for a long period of time. One may also see swollen veins under the skin in the scrotum.
A varicocele can lower sperm count because blood collects in the veins above the testicles. For men who are infertile, 40-50% may have a varicocele.
How We Diagnose Varicoceles:
Often varicoceles are often diagnosed during a physical exam. The testicle with enlarged veins may be more tender. A varicocele may be diagnosed during testing for infertility. If there is pain, but the doctor cannot feel any enlarged veins, an ultrasound may be done.
About 1 in 6 males have a varicocele.