Male Infertility and Varicoceles: Understanding the Link

Sep 06, 2023
Male Infertility and Varicoceles: Understanding the Link
Varicoceles can be a major factor in male infertility. If you know this conundrum too well, there’s reason to hope. Learn about this link and how to turn your challenges around.

You and your partner have been struggling to achieve pregnancy. Meanwhile, you have a painful vein in your scrotum. Could the two be related? Quite possibly, if you’re dealing with varicoceles, which is an enlargement of varicose veins in the pouch (scrotum) surrounding your testicles. 

At his Midtown Manhattan practice, double board-certified radiologist Dr. Yosef Golowa provides varicocele embolization for good candidates.

Let’s take a closer look at varicoceles and infertility, including what to do when the two seem linked.

Varicocele basics

Varicoceles develop when blood pools up in the veins that transport oxygen-depleted blood away from your testicles. They often take form during adolescence and don’t always cause problems. 

When symptoms do unfold, they may include:

  • Discomfort or dull, aching pain, especially when you’re standing or late in the day
  • A lumpy mass in your scrotum
  • Different sized testicles

Because other conditions may cause similar symptoms, a medical exam is important to confirm or rule out your varicocele issues.

Varicocele and infertility

While infertility isn’t technically a symptom of infertility, it’s a possible complication. In fact, some people learn they have a varicocele during the process of sorting through underlying causes of fertility problems. 

Varicoceles can cause poor testicular development and a reduced sperm count, both of which can lead to infertility. Considered a common factor behind male infertility, varicoceles play a role in some 40% of cases. Varicoceles may also gradually worsen fertility, making it more difficult to achieve pregnancy a second or third time. 

Turning your infertility challenges around

If you’re dealing with infertility and have a varicocele, you’re a candidate for treatment. The same applies if you’ve noticed other effects, such as pain or discomfort. And appropriate treatment can go far.

Research shows that varicocele treatment can improve fertility, and may be a smart first step in infertility programs. About two-thirds of patients experience enough improvement to co-achieve pregnancy at some point, and over 40% within one year. 

At our office, Dr. Golowa specializes in varicocele embolization as an alternative to traditional surgery. This minimally invasive procedure treats your varicoceles using only a small needle and a tiny, flexible tube (catheter). By reducing blood flow to damaged veins, it allows your blood to flow normally through healthier veins instead. 

You’ll feel comfortable during the procedure, experience fewer risks compared to surgery, and likely be able to get back to your usual activities within one day.

To learn more about male infertility from varicoceles, or to find out if you’re a candidate for embolization, call our office or book an appointment with Dr. Golowa through our website today.