Varicose Veins as Varicoceles

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A varicocele is a swelling of the vein in the scrotum caused by a faulty valve, which allows the backflow of blood causing it to collect in one area of the vein.

Who Gets Varicoceles?

Varicoceles occur in 3 in 20 men aged between fifteen and twenty- five years old. They usually occur during puberty because of the growth of the testes, which forces more blood into the area. This causes the vein walls to stretch which allows blood to pass backwards through the valves of the vein. This creates a pool of blood, which stretches the vein wall causing the vein to become enlarged.

Symptoms of Varicoceles

Most people do not experience the symptoms of varicoceles, although others can experience them to varying degrees. One of the symptoms of varicoceles is pain after a prolonged period of standing or sitting. This is caused by a build up of pressure in the vein. Pain can also be caused by heavy lifting. Heaviness in the testes or scrotum is also a symptom

Varicoceles can cause one or both testes to shrink depending on where they are. Varicoceles normally appear on the left of the scrotum and cause the left testes to shrink. This is caused by the reduced blood flow in the affected testes and is normally reversed after the treatment of the varicocele.

If you have the symptoms of varicoceles, it is important that you see a doctor. They will be able to confirm your suspicions and ensure that you do not have any other problems.

Diagnosis of Varicoceles

Varicoceles are often diagnosed using a physical examination. If your varicoceles are large enough, they will be visible whilst you are standing and will make your scrotum appear lumpy. If the doctor suspects that you have varicoceles may confirm this using a stethoscope to listen to the blood flow or an ultrasound scan to view the flow of blood.

Are Varicoceles Dangerous?

Varicoceles do not normally cause any complications and are usually considered to be harmless. However, when they occur in certain areas varicoceles can cause infertility. As a result of this, it is important that you see a doctor as soon as you suspect that you have varicoceles.

Treatment of Varicoceles

Varicoceles do not normally require treatment, as they are harmless. If your varicoceles are causing pain or discomfort you may be given anti- inflammatory tablets to reduce the swelling and relieve the pressure around your veins. You may also be told to wear tight fitting underwear or a jock strap to support your testes and relieve the pressure on your varicoceles.

If these treatments do not work it is possible that you will require surgery to remove your varicoceles. This surgery is called a varicocelectomy and will be performed by an urologist. A varicocelectomy is normally done on an outpatient basis under either a local or a general anaesthetic. The varicose vein is tied off so that the blood flow is directed into the other veins. After surgery, you will be required to wear scrotal support and may need to put ice on the area to reduce the swelling. You will probably feel some discomfort for a few weeks after which everything will be back to normal.

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