A varicocele is a condition whereby veins within the scrotum are enlarged. It occurs when the veins that drain blood from the testicles become dilated or swollen, resulting in the formation of a varicose vein-like structure. Varicoceles most commonly occur on the left side of the scrotum, although they can occur on both sides. In some cases, they can lead to testicular discomfort, pain, testicular atrophy (shrinkage), or fertility problems.
Varicoceles can affect males of any age, but they most commonly develop during puberty and early adulthood. It is estimated that varicoceles affect around 15% of all males, with the highest amount of cases occurring in the age group of 15 to 25 years.The exact cause of varicoceles is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a malfunction of the valves within the veins, which leads to the pooling of blood and increased pressure.
A lump in one of your testicles
Swelling in your scrotum
Visibly enlarged or twisted veins in the scrotum accompanied by dull or sharp pain,
Please see your GP to rule out other possible causes of these symptoms.
If any of the following symptoms develop, contact your GP:
• Difficulty in passing urine
• Severe swelling or redness to the scrotum
• Bleeding or discharge from the wound
• Increasing pain or pain that cannot be controlled with pain killers
• A high temperature.
Varicoceles are believed to be caused by defective valves in the veins within the scrotum, just above the testicles.
A varicocele is an enlargement of the veins within the loose bag of skin that holds the testicles (scrotum). These veins transport oxygen-depleted blood from the testicles. A varicocele occurs when blood pools in the veins rather than circulating efficiently out of the scrotum. When the blood doesn’t move through the veins like it should, it begins to pool in the vein, causing an enlargement. The exact cause of this condition is unclear.
There are no drugs to treat or prevent varicoceles. But pain killers (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) may help with pain. When needed, surgery is the main form of treatment. Embolization (briefly blocking the veins) is a non-surgical treatment option. Surgical correction is the most commonly performed technique to treat varicoceles with a technical failure rate of less than 5%.
Horse chestnut: Venaforce Horse Chestnut (60 Capsules)
The anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling properties in aescin — a compound in horse chestnut — may make it an effective treatment for infertility related to varicocele [iii]
A 2-month study in over 100 men with varicocele-associated infertility found that taking 30 mg of aescin every 12 hours improved sperm density, sperm motility, and sperm quality. In addition, the varicocele size decreased with the intake of aescin [iv]
[i] Alsaikhan B, Alrabeeah K, Delouya G, Zini A. Epidemiology of varicocele. Asian J Androl. 2016 Mar-Apr;18(2):179-81.
[ii] Paick S, Choi WS. Varicocele and Testicular Pain: A Review. World J Mens Health. 2019 Jan;37(1):4-11. doi: 10.5534/wjmh.170010. Epub 2018 May 16.
[iii] Calogero AE, Condorelli RA, Russo GI, La Vignera S. Conservative Nonhormonal Options for the Treatment of Male Infertility: Antibiotics, Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, and Antioxidants. Biomed Res Int. 2017;2017:4650182.
[iv] Fang Y, Zhao L, Yan F, Xia X, Xu D, Cui X. Escin improves sperm quality in male patients with varicocele-associated infertility. Phytomedicine. 2010 Mar;17(3-4):192-6. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2009.07.014. Epub 2009 Aug 13. PMID: 19682880.
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.