A varicocele is the abnormal enlargement of the veins in the male scrotum, similar to varicose veins that occur in other parts of the body. The scrotum is the sac that contains the testicles, as well as the arteries and veins responsible for transporting blood to and from the reproductive glands, known as the pampiniform plexus.
Varicoceles are only found in the scrotum, and are a fairly common occurrence, especially in men between the ages of 15 and 25. In fact, they are found in 15 percent of adults, and 20 percent of adolescents. They typically form during puberty, and while they can form on either side, they are more frequently found on the left side of the scrotum.
A varicocele is a common cause of infertility in men, as it causes both low sperm production and decreased quality of sperm. It can also keep the testicles from developing normally, or cause them to shrink. Most of the time, varicoceles take time to develop, and are easy to diagnose. In many cases, treatment isn’t necessary, but if it is, there are several treatment options available.
As with varicose veins, varicoceles are often overlooked because there are no noticeable symptoms. However, if you do experience symptoms, they may include:
The most common symptom associated with a varicocele is pain. It may vary from dull to sharp, and increase over the course of the day, especially if you are standing or involved in physical activity for a long period of time. If you do experience any of the above symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor, as there are several medical conditions that can cause pain or swelling in the scrotum, some which require treatment immediately.
Each testicle is held up by a spermatic cord, which also contains the nerves, arteries and veins that support the testicles. A varicocele forms when the valve that keeps blood in the veins flowing one-way back towards the heart is weakened and begins to allow blood to backflow, known as reflux. When the blood backflows, it pools in the vein and causes the vein to become engorged, resulting in ropy, twisted veins that can negatively affect fertility and signal more serious health concerns. The exact cause of a varicocele isn’t known, and there are no significant risk factors associated with their development.
Besides causing discomfort, varicoceles can result in:
Treating a varicocele isn’t always necessary, but if you suffer from any of the above issues, you may want to consider treatment, especially if you are trying to conceive or may plan to in the future.
Diagnosis of a varicocele is usually done during a physical exam by your doctor. If the varicocele isn’t able to be seen or felt, your doctor may perform an ultrasound to obtain a more accurate diagnosis of the condition. Once diagnosed, your treatment options will depend on the severity of your pain, atrophy or infertility issues.
To alleviate pain or discomfort, it may be recommended that you wear a jock strap or tight underwear to provide extra support. Other treatment options include:
If you have been diagnosed with a varicocele, call IVC today at 503-612-0498 to schedule an appointment with one of our team of experienced and professional interventional radiologists.
This is for Dr. Pfister. I just wanted to thank him for all the time he spent with us the other week. In all the years I’ve had my vascular problems I’ve never had a doctor really sit down and explain to me the intricacies of what might be going on. I have a lot to think about…but just wanted to say thanks for being so nice and answering our many questions!L.H.
A fantastic group of wonderful people. The procedure was very smooth. When they were putting the port in I felt like I was getting a great massage!! Thank you all!S.C.
Charley was instrumental in getting me scheduled in quickly to get my PICC line removed. She actually worked until late in the day to get the information from my referring doctor’s office. It is nice to know great people like Charley still exist in this world!K.S.
I had my blood clot filter removed on 2/21/18. I was very apprehensive, yet EVERYONE in Dr. Pfister’s office and surgical team helped to make me comfortable. I am extremely claustrophobic so laying down or having something covering my face creates anxiety. Mary Anne listened to my concerns and made sure I was made comfortable and did not feel anxious. The surgical team was amazing, they explained everything thoroughly. Dr. Pfister came in after the procedure to review what he did and discuss any follow up that might be required. I so appreciate the time and attention he gives me as his patient. This was a positive experience.G.H.
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If you ever need an Interventional Radiologist for a child I realize it is serious business. I’ve seen Dr. Love go and save a child’s kidney without missing a beat. I could recommend no one better for myself, or for people I love. I think he is a little cool at the bedside, but that’s OK Dr. Love, stay frosty! If you can’t see Dr. Love, one of the other professionals at IVC will be able to help you. Ashley, the dynamite scheduler and one of the other surgeons at IVC will care for you. I’ve had multiple surgeries with this practice over the past several years. Never a hiccup!S. R. – Portland, OR
Great experience, doctor was thorough in explaining what was going to happen. The nurses were very attentive and made sure I was comfortable and my needs were met. I would recommend this office for any related procedure.Anonymous
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Dr. Pfister, thanks so much for your excellent care, removing my chemo port earlier this week. With all your experience and your fine touch, I’m confident the scar will be nearly invisible. Your team, from beginning to end, did a super job with me. Please extend my gratitude to Jennifer, Mary Anne, Todd and Charley. I’ve got a whole lot of living left to do. I appreciate all of you helping me do it!M. F.
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The entire office is one of the most professional, helpful and informative medical offices I have dealt with (and I have dealt with many). Kudos to Jennifer, Henry, and Charley!K. C.
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Patty, Mary Anne and the whole staff was amazing! Best experience I’ve had since being diagnosed with cancer. From start to finish, was great. Thanks.M
My brother came into Legacy Meridian Park, had a stroke. Dr. Bauer came in immediately, in his work jeans and shirt. He worked with Neurologist Dr. Burbank, developed a plan and took my brother into a procedure where they removed the clot from his head! Very down to earth doctor, explained procedure to family, worked with sense of urgency.J. P.
I want to comment regarding Dr. Bauer of how he was thorough explaining my CT Biopsy and showing me how on the computer he would get the tissue needed. In all the years of several surgeries I have never felt better going in to have a procedure done. His bedside manner was incredible. I wish all doctors were like Dr. Bauer. Thank you for preparing and relaxing me prior to the biopsy.R.S. Molalla OR
Everyone did a superb job taking care of me and doing the procedure. Thank You AllK.S.
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Dr. Bauer, our family wants you to know how thankful we are to you for saving G.P.’s life and bringing him back to us in normal health. Thank you over and over you are the best!Family of G. P.