Mr. Daniel Johnson, B.Sc.
Veins have valves that prevent backward blood flow. However, these veins are not always strong enough to combat excessive pressure in the spermatic cord. When pressure is too high, blood flows backward despite their resistance.
How it Happens
Varicocele is caused by back-flow of blood in the spermatic cord of the testis. The spermatic cord is a collection of veins that return blood from the testis to the heart. Blood backs up and pools in pampiniform plexus (mesh-work of veins) of the testis.
Varicocele occurs because of blood pooling in the pampinform plexus. Blood pooling stretches the veins and makes them varicose (swollen). Varicocele grade is defined by how swollen these veins become. Higher grade varicocele means more swelling. Grade 1 varicocele is not visible normally. Grade 2 can be visualized during the Valsalva Maneuver, and grade 3 varicocele is visible normally and looks like a bag of worms.
Varicocele is very similar to varicose, spider, and herniated veins—it is a type of swollen vein that needs time to heal.
How Common is Varicocele
Varicocele effects about 10-30% of men, depending on the population studied. Anywhere from 10-40% of these men have infertility.
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