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A varicocele (say "VAR-uh-koh-seel") is a large vein that forms in one or both sides of the scrotum. The blood builds up, or pools. This makes the vein larger than normal. To fix the problem, your doctor may tie off the veins.
A varicocele may be related to poor sperm quality. This may cause problems with fertility. The doctor can do one of several types of surgery. After the surgery, sperm quality may improve. This may help with fertility. The surgery may also be done to reduce pain in the scrotum.
The doctor may look through a microscope to see better during the surgery. The doctor makes small cuts in your groin. These cuts are called incisions. Or your doctor may choose to use a laparoscope. To do this type of surgery, the doctor puts a lighted tube, or scope, and other surgical tools through small cuts in your belly. The doctor is able to see with the scope. The surgery also can be done through a vein in the leg if the veins are being blocked rather than tied off.
You may be able to go home a few hours after the surgery. For 2 weeks after your surgery, avoid any heavy lifting or intense exercise. You will probably be able to go back to work or your normal routine in 2 to 3 days. This depends on your job. If your job involves a lot of activity or lifting, ask your doctor when you can go back to work.
Varicocele repair is most often done on an outpatient basis. You can expect to go home within a few hours of a routine varicocele surgery.
You should be able to resume light work duties 1 to 2 days after surgery and full intense activities after 2 weeks or when your doctor says you are ready.
Varicocele repair is typically done if the pain doesn't go away or isn't relieved with treatment. And it is done to improve fertility if you have both a varicocele and impaired sperm.
For those who have abnormal sperm and varicoceles that are large enough to be felt in the scrotum, research shows that surgery may increase pregnancy rates compared to not having treatment.footnote 1
Risks of a varicocele repair include:
CitationsPersad E, et al. (2021). Surgical or radiological treatment for varicoceles in subfertile men. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 4(4): CD000479. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000479.pub6. Accessed March 9, 2023.
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Femi Olatunbosun MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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