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Men's Health Line - Varicocele

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Introduction and Causes Symptoms and Effects
Prevention Treatment and Self-help

Introduction and Causes
Symptoms and Effects
Treatment and Self-help

What is varicocele?

A varicocele is a collection of swollen veins in the scrotum. It is usually next to and above one or both of the testicles. However, in majority of cases it develops on the left side.

Any man can be affected. Varicocele is a common condition. Some overseas studies showed that varicocele is present in 15% of the male population. Varicocele tends to occur in young men between puberty and the age of 35. Varicocele can be harmless, but it may also lead to testicular atrophy (shrinkage) or fertility problems.

What causes it?

In most men, the reason is unknown. One possible mechanism is that the valve of the veins in the scrotum becomes defective. This results in blood pooling in the vein. Inefficient blood flow causes the veins to enlarge and form a varicocele. Varicocele can also result from a tumor blocking the spermatic vein.



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What are the common symptoms?

Varicocele may look and feel like "a bag of worms? It is usually painless. Some men may notice the enlarged veins and feel heaviness in the testicle when standing, and degree of discomfort will vary from one person to another. The varicocele may temporarily disappear when lying down as the blood from the veins drains away.

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How can I prevent it?

There is no known cause although there is a tendency for varicocele to run in families, thus no preventive measure can be applied.


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What is the treatment?

For most varicoceles, treatment may not be necessary if the symptoms are mild and infertility is not an issue. Supportive underpants rather than boxer shorts may help reduce the discomfort.

In cases of significant swelling and discomfort, an operation may be necessary.

The choice of an appropriate treatment is based on the severity of your symptoms, the extent to which the symptoms may affect your lifestyle, the presence of any underlying causes and development of complications (such as testicular atrophy or infertility).

How can I help myself?

It is important to be aware of any swelling or lump inside the scrotum. It is a must to consult a doctor for diagnosis since symptoms of varicocele may be similar to those of more severe diseases, such as testicular cancer.

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