Varicoceles (abnormally dilated veins in the testes) are found on physical examination of roughly one third of men being evaluated for failure to conceive. They are categorized by size (large, medium and small) and by their presence on one or both sides of the scrotum.
It is important to know that varicoceles of all sizes may affect fertility and the chance of improvement is equivalent after repair.
In addition, a varicocele on side of the scrotum has an effect upon both testes in regards to function and temperature. Varicoceles that cannot be felt by the physician but are diagnosed by imaging studies, such as ultrasonography, are not clinically significant.
Repair of a varicocele in the male partner of an infertile couple is indicated when:
• There is objective evidence of a male factor (i.e. abnormal semen analysis),
• The wife’s fertility status is intact and
• There are no other obvious causes for male infertility (i.e. obstruction or genetic abnormality).