Noticeably enlarged veins in the scrotum, the bag of skin that covers your testicles, are known as varicocele. While these veins may not cause any symptoms or pose a risk to your health, some can interfere with your fertility.
At Urology Specialist Group, the skilled urologists can diagnose and treat bothersome varicocele and the resulting infertility issues they may cause. The providers can determine which treatment options work best for you based on your own unique health needs.
Why you have varicocele
Varicocele are enlarged veins of the scrotum that resemble a bag of worms just under the surface of your skin. They are similar to varicose veins that develop in your legs due to poor circulation.
The underlying cause of varicoceles aren’t well understood, but dysfunction in the valves of the spermatic cord that carries blood to and from your testicles may play a role.
If the valves aren’t working properly, they can cause blood to back up in the veins, causing them to become enlarged. As the veins become wider, they can damage your testicles and interfere with sperm production.
Varicocele can form at any time but are most common during puberty. Many males develop varicoceles on the left side of the testicles because of the location of the left testicular vein.
When to seek help for varicocele
Varicocele generally don’t cause symptoms and many men aren’t aware they have them. The Urology Specialist Group physicians often discover varicocele in patients during a routine prostate exam.
However, very enlarged veins can cause discomfort that ranges from a dull ache to a sharp pain in the testicles. You may become more aware of the vein discomfort during physical activity and should schedule a diagnostic evaluation to rule out other possible causes for testicle pain.
If you and your partner are experiencing issues conceiving a child, your provider can check for varicocele as part of an infertility evaluation.
You may also wish to schedule a consultation with the Urology Specialist Group providers if you have varicoceles that are very large and affect the appearance of your scrotum.
Treatment options for varicocele
Small varicoceles that cause no symptoms or infertility complications likely won’t need treatment. But if the enlarged veins are uncomfortable or interfering with fertility, you may need varicocele repair surgery.
To determine if you’re a candidate for this type of surgery, your provider at Urology Specialist Group physically examines the veins. They may request an ultrasound to evaluate how blood is flowing to and from your testicles.
Varicocele repair surgery focuses on sealing off the enlarged vein. Your surgeon will close the vein using either laparoscopically or by using open surgical techniques. Once the vein is sealed, your blood naturally reroutes to healthy veins nearby.
Surgery to repair varicocele can improve your fertility efforts and the quality of your sperm. The surgery carries few risks but it’s possible that even with treatment varicocele may return.
If you have concerns about swollen veins in your scrotum, schedule a diagnostic evaluation for varicocele by calling the Urology Specialist Group nearest you or by booking an appointment online today.