A varicocele is a varicose vein of the testicle and scrotum that may cause pain and lead to testicular atrophy (shrinkage of the testicles).
In healthy veins within the scrotum, one-way valves allow blood to flow from the testicles and scrotum back to the heart. In a varicocele, these valves do not function properly, causing blood to pool enlarging the vein. Experts believe that the raised temperature that results from the pooled blood in these blocked veins can decrease sperm count and motility of sperm and increase the number of deformed sperm. In fact, the incidence of varicoceles increases to 30 percent in couples who cannot have children.
Laparoscopic ligation or open surgical ligation, performed by a urologist, is the most common treatment for symptomatic varicoceles.