Varicose vein in testicle

Originally Published: May 18, 1995 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: July 17, 2007
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Alice,

How much will a varicose vein in the testicles affect fertility?

—Twisted

Dear Twisted,
Varicocele, or varicose veins that surround the testis, are simply abnormally distended veins. Varicocele is a very common condition that affects 10-15% of men, and more commonly involves the left testis than the right. The usual cause of varicocele is failure of the testicular valves. The condition is usually harmless, though there may be an aching discomfort in the scrotum.

Diagnosis is confirmed by examination of the scrotum. The condition may be relieved by wearing an athletic support. Further treatment is not usually necessary. However, if you and your partner are trying to get pregnant and are having trouble, it is possible that the varicocele may be affecting your fertility. The varicocele can cause your sperm count to be low, or your sperm to be abnormal in shape or motion, as it sometimes applies excessive heat and pressure to the testes. If you think this might be a problem for you, see a medical doctor, as surgical removal of the varicocele improves sperm level and function in 70% of the cases. If you and your partner are not trying to get pregnant, there shouldn't be any cause for concern. It's not as if the longer you have the varicocele, the more it affects your fertility — removing the varicocele has almost immediate effects.

If these veins are causing you distress, pain, or you are concerned about your fertility, it may be a good idea to see a health care provider. If you are at Columbia you can make an appointment by calling 4-2284 or logging into Open Communicator.

Good luck!

Alice