A varicocele is a term used to describe abnormal enlargement of the veins within the scrotum. The veins carry blood from the various body organs back to the heart. Typically, veins have valves that prevent blood backflow. When the valves in the veins within the scrotum don’t work as they should, blood tends to collect in the scrotum, leading to varicoceles.

While varicocele is very common, it is not life-threatening. In fact, research shows that about 15 percent of all adult men have varicocele. For most men, the condition will go unnoticed throughout their life or does not cause any complications. Although the condition is not dangerous, varicocele is a common cause of low sperm production and reduced sperm quality, leading to infertility. Varicoceles can also lead to reduced testosterone production and scrotal discomfort. The condition often does not need treatment until there is a reason for concern about the associated problems. Fortunately, varicocele is easy to diagnose and treat.


How do Varicoceles Affect the Testis?

 

While numerous theories exist, medical experts agree that varicoceles cause the veins to carry warm blood from the abdomen down to the testis. Generally, the testis functions properly at around three degrees below the average body temperature. As such, warmblood can affect the testis’ ability to produce testosterone and sperm.

Symptoms of Varicoceles

Most often, Varicoceles have no symptoms or signs. As mentioned earlier, you will barely notice it. However, although rarely, the condition might cause pain. When it does cause pain, it might;

  • Switch from a sharp to a dull discomfort
  • Become worse over the day
  • Increase when due to physical exertion or standing for extended periods
  • Pain that goes away when you lie on your back
  • Impaired infertility

Over time, varicoceles may become more enlarged and become noticeable. Varicoceles are often described as looking like a “bag of worms” sometimes, the condition may also cause a swollen testicle, most often on the left side.

When Should You Seek a Doctor?

Since symptoms do not accompany varicocele, it often does not require treatment. In some cases, varicoceles are discovered during a fertility evaluation. However, you should see a doctor if you notice any of the following.

  • Pain or swelling in the scrotum
  • Discover a mass on the scrotum
  • You are having a problem with your fertility
  • When you notice that one of your testicles is larger than the other

Possible Complications with Varicoceles

Unfortunately, although the condition is not life-threatening, it can also lead to several unpleasant complications.

  • Atrophy (shrinking of the affected testicles)

The testicles are made of sperm-producing tubules. Varicoceles damage these tubules, making the testicles soften and shrink.

  • Infertility

The condition also causes the local temperature around or in the testicles to be too high, affecting sperm formation.

Causes of Varicoceles

Medical practitioners are not sure of the leading cause of varicoceles. However, doctors agree that the condition forms when there is a problem with blood flow in the spermatic cord. The problem develops when the valves in the veins do not function properly and allows blood to flow back. As a result, blood pools in the veins causing them to dilate. When the condition is common in adults, it can also develop in teens during puberty. The testicles usually require more blood than usual during this growth cycle. This condition can lead to problems in the veins, preventing the blood from flowing where it should.

Varicocele Diagnosis

Your doctor will perform a thorough physical examination, which might reveal a non-tender mass above the testicles. When the mass is large enough, it feels like a bag of worms. When the varicocele is small, the doctor might request you to stand, take a deep breath and hold it while you bear down. This technique will help the doctor to detect any abnormal veins enlargement. Your doctor may also order a scrotal ultrasound. The test uses high-frequency sound waves to create a precise image of the structure of the scrotum. The test is also helpful in helping the doctor rule out other reasons that could be causing the problem in the scrotum.

Treatments for Varicocele

In most cases, varicoceles treatment is not necessary. Most men with varicoceles do not experience fertility issues. However, if the condition is causing pain, testicular atrophy, or infertility, you can benefit…

OUR PATIENTS SAY

Dr De Young is personable and thorough in his explanations. Exceptional. 

James R.

I am pleased to recommend La Jolla Vein & Vascular. I am in the process of receiving treatment there. The entire medical staff are super friendly, welcoming and very helpful. Everyone is courteous, including the physicians. I’ve had one doctor follow my case. He’s the one who always treats me at appointments and closely follows my health. I am very comfortable going there. Would go again if needed and encourage anyone who’s thinking of making an appointment to do so asap. You’ll see what a wonderful experience it is. It’s the people who make it so special!

Monica M.

From my greeting at the front desk to the ultrasound and visit with the doctor, I received excellent care. It’s clear they care about their patients and all the staff couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful. I also appreciate how much time the doctor spent with me to explain the results and the next steps. I would definitely recommend this office to friends with vein issues. 

Anne S.

We were early and didn’t have to wait at all. The tech that did my husband’s ultrasound, Monica, was very accommodating with my husband’s Parkinson’s. Doctor Lucas whom we hadn’t seen before, came to us instead of making my husband walk down to another office. She spent a lot of time getting caught up on Steve’s background issues/conditions. I was impressed by this medical group before, so I was surprised that the staff was even better this time around; I honestly didn’t think there was room for improvement! 

Linda N.

I have been having leg treatments for several months now La Jolla Vein Care. Every time I go to an appointment; the staff is so friendly and takes such good care of me; always informative; not in a rush and always friendly (especially Alejandra & Anna to name a few). Of course Dr. Lucas is amazing. The treatments have changed my life. Overall this has been an incredible experience. 

Brigid Z.

Beautiful facility! I walked in without an appointment and they took me right away! It was even the end of the day…I was so grateful…Every single person was soooo pleasant! Super impressed ❤️ 

Susan M.

Highly recommend! Entire staff are warm& friendly, professional and accommodating. The doctor took the time to thoroughly explain everything and encouraged me to ask questions. I never felt rushed. Significantly better experience than the other 2 vein clinics I’ve been to on the east coast. I wish I could’ve just come here from the beginning. 

M.

The staff kept you informed as to when you would be seen and the wait was not too long. Emily took care of my ultrasound and was very accommodating giving me an extra pillow and playing a video to watch. The office is very courteous and professional- Nadia answered our questions and offered us a bottle of water. I have been seeing Dr. Bunke, but now Dr. Lucas and will continue coming to La Jolla Vein Care! 

Rebecca D.

I had the best experience at La Jolla Vein Care. Dr.Bunke is an amazing doctor with the best bedside manners, she truly cares about her patients, she explained everything to me. My procedures where so easy I was impressed how painless and fast my appointments. Anna M was very helpful scheduling my treatments and checking on me to make sure all of my questions were answered. I am very pleased thank you !!! I truly recommend La Jolla Vein Care!

Henda S.

Everyone here is so nice! Usually front desk medical personnel are so rude. The front desk ladies Alejandra, Anna, and I think her name is Liz, went above and beyond to take care of me and my insurance issues. The techs are great too! Rachel and a male technician assisted me…both of them implemented different techniques to make me feel more at ease during an uncomfortable and painful process. These procedures were rough…and I am grateful everyone was so sweet to me. Thanks again. 

Melissa B.

When I arrived for the first time, I could barely walk. My legs were red and swollen. After my treatments, I can now walk again. I’m so thankful to the doctor and his staff. They are caring, supporting and knowledgeable about my issues. Five Stars all the way!!!! 

Pamela M.

La Jolla Vein care has the best staff ever. They are so nice, accommodating and professional!! Dr. Bunke is the best doctor that I ever seen. She is so friendly upfront and has the best bed side manner. I thank this office for letting me be their patient. 💜. Plus they are so careful with COVID which I really appreciate!!! 

Darlene H.