Learn More About Varicocele
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What is Varicocele?
Varicocele is swollen testicle veins. Just like swollen veins in the legs, the veins draining from the scrotum can also become swollen. As it turns out, varicocele is very common and the #1 cause of male infertility.
You may read that varicocele is the result of "venous insufficiency". This simply means that the veins were unable to circulate the blood.
It is commonly thought that varicocele is caused by the defective or missing vein valves that prevent backward blood flow, however this is an out-dated theory with weak supporting evidence. The majority of individuals with varicocele have normal valves.
When blood does not circulate well, it pools, and causes excess pressure on the vein walls, and stretches them. Swollen testicular veins are refereed to as a varicocele. Varicoceles are very similar to hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and spider veins.
A varicocele can be small and only visible via ultrasound, or palpable (able to be touched or felt), and feels like a bag of worms inside the scrotum.
Varicocele is the #1 cause of male infertility. About 10-20% of all men have a varicocele. 40-60% of men with infertility have varicocele.
Even though it was generally accepted that varicocele may also be symptomless, it is now known to negatively effect testosterone levels.
Generally symptoms worsen with age, which is why it is important to treat varicocele in its early stages. View my blog for some great information on varicocele natural treatments.
What Causes Varicocele?
Despite the popular belief that faulty valves cause varicocele (which is False), current scientific knowledge states that a complex of risk increasing factors cause varicocele to develop. This means that many factors are contribute to the development of varicocele and its symptoms.
Simply, this means that there are many factors responsible for varicocele and that surgery merely addresses the symptom of faulty valves, and that is why it is ineffective in many cases.
These risk increasing factors relate to impairment of blood flow, increased pressure in the torso and an excess production of vasodilators. You can read the preview of the The Complete Guide to Natural Healing of Varicocele for more information on the causes of varicocele and how to treat them naturally without surgery, visit the varicocele healing blog, or continue reading for more details.
Two common causes that elevate pressure in the testicular veins are the Nutcracker effect, and how the left testicular vein connects to the renal vein at a 90-degree angle.
The Nutcracker effect describes how the left renal vein is compressed in the torso. This compression impairs circulation in the renal vein which forces blood to pool in the varicocele. The 90-degree entry angle creates fluid pressure that then backs up blood. These two anatomical features increase blood pressure in the veins.
Testicular veins are not anatomically designed to take high blood pressure, therefore the Nutcracker effect and the 90-degree entry cause veins to stretch and become varicose. These are two major contributors to the discrepancy between left- and right- sided varicocele prevalence (80% left-sided, 2% right-sided, 18% bilateral). However there are many other contributors to varicocele development.
Varicocele Diagnosis and Grading
The standard way to diagnose varicoceles is by physical examination. Depending on grade, the patient may be standing, laying down or performing the Valsalva maneuver. Palpation of the scrotum by a trained physician can detect varicocele.
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