If you are among the many who are diagnosed with varicocele and are experiencing infertility issues, then you may be looking for available treatment options. Surgery is an effective option for treating varicocele. However, you probably might be wondering is this the only available option.
Before deciding on a treatment option, it is important that you learn about the procedure, its benefits, and associated risks. This article will help you know more about Varicocele, its treatment options, and associated risks.
It is estimated that around 15 percent of male population have varicocele.
Veins inside the scrotum contain single-way valves that allow blood to flow back to the heart. When these valves malfunction, the blood flow becomes slow requiring more pressure to keep the blood flowing through the veins. Hence inefficient valves will force blood to flow backwards, and it starts to pool around damaging the veins. This blockage further leads to the condition called varicocele, the swelling of scrotal veins.
- Varicocele are dilated veins in the scrotum and around the testicles.
- The bulge of veins may damage sperm or lower the sperm count.
- Pain and discomfort in the scrotum and around the testicles are commonly experienced.
- If a couple is unable to conceive after a year of unprotected sex, infertility due to varicocele may be diagnosed.
Most men with varicoceles may be asymptomatic. Some men experience pain, swelling, heaviness, or/and a throbbing sensation in the scrotum.
A doctor may diagnose varicocele during a physical examination of the scrotum, feeling lumps or unusual blood vessels in the area.
With the help of an ultrasound, he or she may be able to see the veins inside the scrotum
Surgical procedures and minimally invasive procedures are available for treating the condition.
However, every procedure comes with associated risks and hence it is important to discuss your concerns with your doctor. Published literature suggest vastly different success rates for surgical and minimally invasive procedures like embolization.
Surgical procedure, called varicocelectomy though effective has high technical failure rate according to various studies. Pain and discomfort are more with the procedure and the recovery period varies from 3 to 6 weeks.
Risks associated with surgery
- Hydrocele is a condition that develops when fluid buildup can occur if the lymphatic flow has been disturbed by the varicocele surgery. It may worsen the swelling in the scrotum.
- Injury to arteries can occur which can cause accidental tying off the blood supply to the testicle. This may result in testicular atrophy and decreased testicular function, leading to low testosterone levels and reduced sperm quality.
- Recurrence of varicocele is reported in 10% of men after surgery.
Minimally invasive procedure – Varicocele Embolization
Varicocele Embolization is a minimally invasive proven effective treatment option for Varicocele. The procedure is recommended by doctors as it offers a success rate comparable to the traditional surgical procedure but with relatively lesser risks.
Another advantage is that hydrocele or arterial injury are unlikely to occur because the lymphatics or arteries are not involved in the procedure.
However, every procedure has certain risks, and it is the experience and skill of the doctor that matters.
If you want to learn more about Embolization for varicocele, our interventional radiologist can guide you after reviewing your medical history and suggest if this is a suitable option for you.
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