A Varicocele is a collection of abnormally enlarged veins within the loose bag of skin that holds the testicles (scrotum). Varicocles form when valves inside the veins that travel along the spermatic cord prevent blood from flowing properly. This leads to inflammation and widening of the veins. They are most likely to occur on the left side of the scrotum because blood flow on that side is greater; however, varicocles can form on both sides as well. Up to one in five men have a varicocle and numbers are higher in males who are infertile. Varicocles are more common in men from ages 15 to 25 and are a common cause of low sperm production and decreased sperm quality. There are various treatment options to this condition and in most cases, most varicocles are easy to diagnose. Both surgical and nonsurgical options such as varicocle embolization can help reduce and even eliminate symptoms.



Varicoceles develop slowly and may not have any symptoms; however, possible signs and symptoms that can present themselves may include:

  • Aching pain when standing or sitting
  • Testicle lump
  • Feeling of heaviness in the testicles
  • Swelling of the testicle (s)
  • Inflamed and twisted veins in the scrotum
  • Sharp discomfort



A varicocle most likely occurs in males during puberty. This is because the testicles grow quicker and need more blood delivered to them. A varicocle can occur when the valves inside the veins that run along the spermatic cord that carries blood to and from the testicles begin to prevent the blood from flowing properly. This blood blockage causes the veins to widen and swell up and can in turn, cause damage to the testicle or infertility problems due to low sperm production.


Risk Factors 

Factors that can increase the risk of development of a varicocle include the following:

  • Being between the age of 15 and 25
  • Being tall
  • Having kidney cancer
  • Testicular or scrotal injury



Complications that can arise from development of a varicocle include the following:

  • Infertility problems
  • Decrease in size of the affected testicle (atrophy)
  • Infection of the affected testicle
  • Injury to the scrotum
  • Formation of blood clots
  • Bruising at the catheter site
  • Nausea
  • Backache