Varicocele is an abnormal condition of the vein that drains the scrotum and the penis. These veins have small valves to prevent backflow. If these valves do not perform properly, pressure may build up and the vein becomes palpable. This is varicocele. It is generally painless, but it may be a cause of male fertility. Several treatment options are available. Conventional treatments include surgery and radiation. Microsurgery in particular has been found to be quite effective. Lifestyle changes, herbal and ayurvedic medicines also show positive results in varicocele treatment.

The spermatic cord consisting of veins, arteries, nerves and the sperm ducts pass from the abdomen to the penis. Malfunctioning of the small valves in the veins here may cause blood flow, especially on the left side as the vein here drains into the renal vein at 90 degree angle. This causes an abnormality called varicocele. According to studies, it is a condition found in 4% to 30% of the male population.

Is treatment necessary for varicoele?

In most cases, varicocele goes undetected. This is because the condition is often painless and no symptoms are visible. However, definite links have been established between this condition and male infertility.

You should go for treatment of varicocele in case of the following conditions:

  1. If you are feeling a pain or heaviness in the scrotum. Such pain manifests itself like a dull aches and intensifies while sitting, standing and physical activity.
  2. If you are having problems of fertility. Varicocele affects sperm count and may also cause the production of greater proportion of defective sperms.
  3. If you are feeling hot in the groin or one testicle is shrinking (testicular atrophy).

Conventional treatments of varicocele

The most conventional treatment of varicocele is surgery. Microsurgery is the most advanced technique used.

  1. Microsurgery
    • You are out under anesthesia (general or spinal, according to your choice)
    • Incision is made in the groin area beside the varicocele. They are about 1 to 1.5 inch long.
    • Spermatic cord is explored and arteries are separated from the veins.
    • Veins are clipped and cut.
    • The testicle is brought through the incision.
    • All veins on its surface are tied and cut.
    • All is replaced and the wound sewn up. Staples are used to sew the skin.
    • Long acting local anesthetic and codeine or Tylenol is prescribed for the pain.
    • You can return to normal activity after 5 days. However, you will have to limit physical activity and sex for four weeks.
  2. Percutanous embolization
    • A small wire is passed through a small vein to the abdominal vein that drains the testis.
    • A small flexible catheter is inserted to obstruct the vein. So pressure is no longer transmitted to the testicles.
    • Small collateral veins drain the testicles.
  3. Laparoscopic vein ligation
    • Similar to microsurgery with greater risk of side effects.
    • 4 to five telescopes are placed in the abdominal cavity through incision.
    • Veins are tied off from the inside.

Treatment side effects of varicocele

In most cases there are little or no side effects, though improvement may not occur in the sperm count. In a few instances, the following side effects are observed.

  • Reappearance of the varicocele after surgery. In that case percutaneous embolization is used to treat the secondary varicocele.
  • Accumulation of fluid around the testicle
  • Accidental damage to the arteries.

Alternative treatments for varicocele

If you do not want to opt for surgery but want to get treatment for varicocele, you can try herbal remedies or ayurvedic treatment.

  1. Combinations of certain yoga along with ayurvedic medicines like Ashwashila are used to treat varicocele. However, you need to consult a specialist to set up your own personal routine.
  2. Several herbs have been found to be helpful. These are:
    • Mukkuti – Add 20 leaves to 300 ml of boiling water for 40 minutes. Strain and drink the water twice a day for a month.
    • Add I tsp of psyllium seed husk fiber to your food every day for a month.
    • Pulsatilla should be taken with the direction of an herbalist as it can be toxic.
    • Horse chestnut and Butcher’s broom are also effective in improving tone and functioning of testicular veins.