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Male Fertility: Varicocele Could Potentially Lead To Infertility In Men

Understanding The Link Between Varicocele And Infertility

Are you having varicocele-associated infertility as well? In this article, we have discussed whether varicocele affects fertility and when you should visit a doctor for treatment.

Written by Arushi Bidhuri |Updated : June 18, 2021 10:09 AM IST

When we talk about infertility, people suddenly shift their focus to women. However, that is not true. Men can have similar problems having children, whether it's a problem with generating enough sperm (some men have a reduction in sperm count after contracting mumps, for example) or the technique of getting it to the ovaries in the first place. But the thing is not many people know about male infertility.

Knowing how male fertility works and what indicators to look for might help you avoid delaying treatment. Whether you're trying to conceive or not, it's sometimes just useful to learn new things. One condition that could lead to problems in conceiving is varicocele. Know all about this condition right here.

Does Varicocele Cause Infertility In Men?

A varicocele is a condition in which the veins in the loose skin bag that contains the testicles expand. A varicocele is a kind of varicose vein that develops in the leg. Varicoceles can lead to infertility due to decreased sperm production and poor sperm quality. If you have a varicocele, you might have tenderness and swelling of the scrotum.

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Men with varicoceles may or may not experience reproductive issues. Males with varicoceles, on the other hand, have a higher risk of infertility than those without. This variation may come because of varicoceles disturbing your body's ability to store and create sperm. The main problem with varicoceles is that the protrusion in your vein might lower sperm count and quality.

What Are The Causes?

A valve in your veins stops blood from flowing backwards, however, the valve isn't always effective. This causes your blood to return to your veins, causing swelling and harming them. Experts aren't sure what causes your valves to fail, resulting in varicoceles. According to research, smoking may be a risk factor for varicocele. The study also linked alcohol and varicoceles.

Varicocele is a condition caused by strain on your veins caused by stomach expansion. The issue is more frequent in males over the age of 45. A varicocele in most men has no obvious aetiology. It's a good idea for you to see a professional figure out what's causing this problem.


You may require treatment if you have a low sperm count due to varicoceles. Even after treatment, many men experience varicocele-related infertility. In such circumstances, it's a good idea to do some research and talk to your Fertility Specialist about IVF and other ART options. Varicoceles usually don't produce any symptoms and don't need to be treated. A varicocele may require treatment when:

  • You have reduced sperm count and varicocele or other complications with sperm.
  • The varicocele is causing pain or swelling.
  • If you and your partner have unexplained infertility, and the male has a varicocele.

If you go to have treatment, you have three choices:


Embolization is a treatment that temporarily stops your blood supply. A doctor can carry out this procedure in their office with local anaesthesia. You will not feel pain on the site. You might have some tenderness and pain after the procedure, but recovery time is less, and you can go back to your routine. If embolization is not helpful, specialists may try another procedure to treat the varicocele.


Your doctor stops the blood flow to your affected vein and surgically takes out a varicocele. The surgery is known as a varicocelectomy. You will get general anaesthesia before the varicocelectomy, but you might feel some tenderness and pain for a few days after surgery.

IVF Treatment

Most men with varicocele attain fatherhood with IVF treatment. IVF is a procedure in which eggs and sperms are retrieved and fertilized inside a lab. An IVF specialist will retrieve your sperms and mix them with the eggs inside a lab. Then the resulting embryo will be moved to the women's uterus.

As varicocele causes reduced sperm count, visiting an IVF centre is the best method if you do not want surgery. It is also the best choice if you continue to have infertility after surgery.


If you have a varicocele, you should speak with a physician about your treatment options. Surgery may be the best option in some situations. In some situations, assisted conception procedures like in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intrauterine insemination may provide better results for you or your spouse (IUI).

(with inputs from Dr Hrishikesh Pai, leading Gynaecologist & Infertility, Lilavati Hospital, Mumbai, D Y Patil Hospital in Navi Mumbai & Fortis Hospitals in New Delhi, Gurugram & Chandigarh)

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