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  • A varicocele (VAR-i-ko-sel) is a condition where the veins (blood vessels) in the scrotum are dilated (widened). The scrotum is the sac that holds the testicles, which produce sperm and hormones. A varicocele is the most common cause of infertility in men as it affects how sperm are produced. It is usually found more on the left testicle than on the right testicle. A varicocele occurs when the valves (door-like stoppers) within the veins in the scrotum do not work properly. The abnormal valves prevent normal blood flow and cause blood to backup, which dilates and enlarges the veins.
  • Signs and symptoms include a mass or swelling on the scrotum that usually feels like a bag of worms. Enlarged and twisted veins may also be present. .A physical examination may determine if you have a varicocele. Diagnostic tests may include a scrotal ultrasound, semen analysis, and spermatic venography. Treatment includes surgery to repair the varicocele or a percutaneous embolization. With treatment, a varicocele may be cured, and its symptoms relieved.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


Treatment of a varicocele carries certain risks. You could get an infection or bleed too much with surgery. Your stomach, intestines, blood vessels, or kidneys may get injured or burned during surgery. Problems during laparoscopic surgery, such as an injury to your bladder, may lead to open surgery. This is surgery to open your abdomen (stomach) and repair the injuries. Even with treatment, your varicocele may come back. If left untreated, infertility may continue to be a problem. Ask your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your condition, medicine, or care.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.


You may be given the following medicines:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.


You may need any of the following:

  • Semen analysis: A semen analysis is a test to check a man's fertility. A semen sample will be taken. Semen is the thick, white, sperm-containing fluid discharged during ejaculation (process of ejecting semen from the penis). You may need to talk with your caregiver about the method of sample collection.
  • Spermatic venography: This test will examine and show the position of the veins in the scrotum. During this test, your caregiver will put dye into your body and take x-rays to look for the varicocele. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to shellfish (lobster, crab, or shrimp), as you may also be allergic to this dye.
  • Ultrasonography: A scrotal ultrasound uses sound waves to find lumps and other changes in your testicles and scrotum.

Treatment options:

  • Percutaneous embolization: Percutaneous embolization uses a special tube that is inserted into a vein in either your groin or your neck. After seeing the varicocele, coils or balloons are released to create an obstruction (blockage) in the enlarged veins. This obstruction will stop blood flow and treat the varicocele.
  • Surgery: Open or laparoscopic surgery may be done to cut and tie off the veins leading to the varicocele. This stops blood flow and treats the varicocele. Open surgery for a varicocele is done by making an incision in your groin, abdomen (stomach) or below the groin. Laparoscopy is done by inserting a scope into small cuts made in your abdomen. The scope is a long tube with a magnifying glass, a camera, and a light on the end.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Varicocele (Inpatient Care)

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