A varicocele (say "VAR-uh-koh-seel") is a large vein that forms in one or both testicles. The blood builds up, or pools. This makes the vein larger than normal. To fix the problem, your doctor ties off the end of the vein so the blood will not pool.
In some men, a varicocele may be related to poor sperm quality. This may make it hard to father a child. The doctor can do one of several types of surgery to improve a man's chance of having children. After the surgery, sperm quality may improve. This may help you father a child. The surgery may also be done to reduce pain in the scrotum.
The doctor may look through a microscope to see better during the surgery. The doctor makes small cuts in your groin. These cuts are called incisions. Or your doctor may choose to use a laparoscope. To do this type of surgery, the doctor puts a lighted tube, or scope, and other surgical tools through small cuts in your belly. The doctor is able to see with the scope. The surgery also can be done through a vein in the leg.
Most men go home a few hours after the surgery. You will probably be able to go back to work or your normal routine in 2 to 3 days. This depends on your job. If your job involves a lot of activity or lifting, it may take a week or more before you can go back to work.
Varicocele repair is most often done on an outpatient basis. You can expect to go home within 4 hours of a routine varicocele surgery. Pain medicine is prescribed for a few days after surgery.
You should be able to resume light work duties 1 to 2 days after surgery and full strenuous activities within 1 week.
Varicocele repair is typically done to improve the fertility of men who have both a varicocele and impaired sperm.
Some researchers have found that varicocele repair produces favorable pregnancy rates. But others have noted that these pregnancy rates are the same as the rates of couples who have chosen not to have a varicocele repaired.1
Risks of a varicocele repair include:
- Infection at the site of surgery.
- Fluid buildup in the scrotum (hydrocele) that requires draining.
- Injury to the arteries or nerves in the pubic area.
- Fritz MA, Speroff L (2011). Male infertility. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 8th ed., pp. 1249–1292. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Current as of: October 18, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Femi Olatunbosun MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology