When we search for information about a medical condition that concerns us, it is normal to come across pages with a lot of content (some more reliable than others) that can sometimes be overwhelming or simply provide more information than we need in that moment of panic when all we care about is getting answers as quickly as possible.
That’s why we have decided to approach the condition of varicocele (also known as blue balls) in the most practical way possible: we have selected the 10 most frequently asked questions that men usually have and we have presented them with their respective answers in a simple and direct manner. We hope that no question is left unanswered.
1. What is a varicocele and how does it form?
A varicocele is an abnormal dilation of the veins that drain blood from the testicles. It forms when the valves in the veins do not function properly, causing a buildup of blood in the veins and subsequent enlargement.
2. What are the symptoms and signs of a varicocele?
Varicoceles often do not cause symptoms and can be asymptomatic. However, some men may experience pain or discomfort in the scrotum (the skin that covers the testicles), a feeling of heaviness in the testicles, or changes in the appearance or size of the scrotum.
3. Does varicocele affect male fertility?
Yes and no. On one hand, it has been observed that varicoceles can alter semen quality and decrease sperm production, potentially reducing fertility and the likelihood of pregnancy. However, not all varicoceles affect fertility, and the impact varies from case to case.
4. What is the recommended treatment for varicocele?
The recommended treatment for varicocele depends on the severity of symptoms and the impact on fertility. Treatment options include:
- Observation without intervention, which involves regularly monitoring the condition through physical examinations and diagnostic tests such as ultrasounds. Depending on the severity of symptoms, the specialist will guide you on the best course of action.
- The use of scrotal support is a non-surgical management measure that may be recommended to alleviate varicocele symptoms. It involves wearing a supportive garment such as a jockstrap or a support band around the scrotum to provide support and gentle compression.
- Surgery (ligation of the varicose veins), which is a procedure that involves tying off the dilated veins of the varicocele to interrupt abnormal blood flow and correct the pooling of blood in the scrotum.
5. Is it possible to treat varicocele non-surgically?
Yes, in addition to surgery, there is a non-surgical treatment option called varicocele embolization. In this procedure, a catheter is inserted through a small incision in the groin to block the varicose veins and redirect blood flow.
6. What are the risks and complications associated with varicocele surgery?
Varicocele surgery is a safe procedure, but like any surgery, there are associated risks, such as infection, bleeding, pain or discomfort after surgery, damage to nearby structures, and recurrence of the varicocele. Serious complications are rare, but it is essential to discuss specific risks with the doctor before undergoing surgery.
7. Is it necessary to treat a varicocele if it doesn’t cause symptoms?
In general, if the varicocele doesn’t cause symptoms or affect fertility, it may not be necessary to treat it. However, if the varicocele causes discomfort or is suspected to affect fertility, treatment can be considered.
8. Can a varicocele disappear on its own?
It is unlikely for a varicocele to disappear on its own once it has developed. However, in some cases, symptoms may improve or varicoceles may become less prominent over time. Nonetheless, it is always best to seek professional advice to be sure.
9. Can varicocele recur after treatment?
As mentioned in the sixth question, there is a small risk of varicocele recurrence after treatment, whether through surgery or embolization. However, the recurrence rate varies depending on the type of treatment performed and the experience of the physician. Generally, recurrence is less common with more advanced surgical techniques, such as microsurgical varicocelectomy. It is important to follow the postoperative recommendations and care to minimize the risk of recurrence.
10. Does varicocele always require treatment?
This question may have been clarified in the previous answers: not all cases of varicocele require treatment. However, what we always recommend is to consult with a specialist. If the varicocele is asymptomatic and does not affect fertility, the doctor may recommend regular observation without intervention. However, if it causes significant pain or discomfort, affects fertility, or there are other complications, treatment may be recommended.
Not all cases of varicocele require treatment. However, what we always recommend is to consult with a specialist.
Did we manage to answer all your questions? Did you find this article useful? We understand that the risk of having varicocele might worry you. So, if you notice any signs of varicocele, we encourage you to reach out to a specialist. They’ll be able to provide you with the most professional advice and guidance.
Author: Andrés Suro (Sexual Coach at MYHIXEL)
Psychologist specialized in the social area and expert in sexology applied to education.
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