Varicocele

varicocele

Varicocele is a condition where the veins inside your scrotum swell and get more significant in size. The scrotum is the shielding sac around your testes and is responsible for maintaining its shape.

Varicocele is much similar to the varicose vein, which shows similar symptoms in the legs.

Having this condition in your scrotum may feel like a bag of worms as the size of your testes

gets enlarged. This affects a type of vein termed as pampiniform plexus, which is situated in

the spermatic cord. This chord holds vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm, and the testicular artery, which transports blood to the testicles.

 

It is a common condition as approximately 15 – 20% of men experience this at least once in their lifetime. In most cases, varicocele is painless and might feel negligible to notice but can sometimes cause an aching sensation around your testes. For some severe cases, varicocele can cause fertility issues and might reduce sperm quality in the long run.

Varicocele can happen at almost any age but is most common in teens for the hormonal imbalance in blood flow during puberty. Varicocele typically affects only one side of the testicles, and usually, it’s the left side.

 

Causes of varicocele:

Following are the most common causes of varicocele:

  • The most common cause is that when the valves inside the spermatic chords, which are responsible for carrying blood to and from testes, suddenly stops working efficiently or do nothing at all.

 

  • When these blood-carrying valves stop working, the blood around your testes gets accumulated and leads to swelling around that area. In most cases, it is seen on the left side only.

 

  • Such a condition is usually observed during the teenage due to the hormonal imbalance in the puberty phase.

 

Symptoms of varicocele:

Most males suffering from varicocele do not show any significant symptoms. Rarely, some signs of slight pain are observed, which may be temporary in nature. However, varicocele can be a matter of concern for many reasons, the effect on male fertility being a major one.

Symptoms of Varicocele

Following are some commonly noticed symptoms of varicocele:

  • Slight testicular or scrotum pain, which gets better when you are in a comforting position. This aching pain usually increases as the standing time increases for an extended period of time. This may also be improved with activities like bike riding. Varicocele with painful symptoms is most commonly observed.
  • The concern of male infertility via varicocele condition is the most harmful and alarming symptom. This happens as the blood accumulated around the scrotum area increases the temperature inside the testes and blocks the enlarged veins, resulting in decreased sperm count and other sperm motility issues. Approximately 30% of the male infertility cases reported are mainly due to the varicocele condition.
  • Testicular size is usually seen in an abnormal shape. Swollen size of one or both of your testes due to an excess blood accumulation is commonly seen. Small lump above the affected testicle and in rare cases, shrinking of the scrotum size is also observed. It usually looks like a swollen bag of worms as the size enlarged causes the veins to stick with the inner side of the testes.

 

Diagnosis for varicocele:

Diagnosis for varicocele

Following are three fundamental diagnoses available for varicocele:

Physical Examination – By a mere look and examining the affected testicle, your the doctor shall easily determine the problem of varicocele. Your doctor may ask you to stand straight and practice breathing exercises until the defect in the scrotum is observed. This process is called the “Valsalva maneuver” and helps in identifying the enlarged veins.

Ultrasound test – In case of finding a detailed overview of the affected scrotum, your a urologist may advise you to take an ultrasound test. Ultrasound will help in determining any signs of blood accumulation inside the valves, which are as thin as 3 mm in size. It helps in identifying varicocele in teens and is used when the physical examination doesn’t work for its purpose.

Semen Test – Since varicocele is commonly connected with the issue of male infertility, defaults in semen tests for sperm count and motility can be one of the mechanisms for identifying varicocele.

 

Treatment 

Ranging from home remedies to technical surgeries, varicocele can be treated and managed in various ways. Following are a couple of treatment options that your urologist may prescribe in due course:

Treatment for varicocele

  • Home Remedies – A couple of home fixes can be really helpful to improve the condition of varicocele. Firstly, it is recommended to incorporate some routine changes in your daily lifestyle. It is advised to abstain from standing for long durations and to avoid tight-fitting clothes. Following this, apply ice cubes covered in a towel over the affected area can help to some extent. It is so as this will decrease the increased temperature in the scrotum due to excess blood accumulated.

Caution: Don’t apply the ice cubes directly to the skin.

  • Medications – Supplementing some medications like Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be advised to remove varicocele in cases of minor aching caused in the scrotum.

 

  • Surgery – In cases where the patient suffers from acute pain or has negatively impacting factors from varicocele condition, surgical methods are usually advised by the respective urologists. The surgical methods incorporated will clip or tie off the veining causing the symptoms. This will stop the blood flow from the affecting veins will consecutively reduce the amount of blood accumulated. This will, as a result, improve the sperm count and its motility as the temperature decreases to the ideal level. One might still face varicocele post-surgery, but it won’t cause any pain or harm the sperm levels in the scrotum. Surgical methods for varicocele are outpatient procedures, meaning the patient can leave safely the same day and resume a normal lifestyle after 2-3 days only. Surgery used to fix varicocele is highly common among men suffering from it as it improves sperm count levels to significant levels within one year only. Approximately 40-50% of the couples enhance their chances for pregnancy after getting varicocele fixed through surgical methods.

 

Conclusion

Varicocele is a common condition that can affect men of different ages and stages in lifestyle. As per several studies conducted, it is reported that approximately 1 out of every five men suffer from varicocele at least once in their lifetime. It is caused due to the accumulation of excess blood in veins inside the scrotum. Such a condition is most commonly seen in teenage due to the hormonal imbalance in the puberty phase. Varicocele can have a variance of symptoms, but swollen size of testes, testicular aching pain, and abnormal sperm count levels are commonly observed. Physical examination is the most common form of diagnosing varicocele, but semen and ultrasound tests are also commonly seen. Ultrasound and semen tests are used if the symptoms from this condition are not physically present. Treating varicocele is no more complicated as several home remedies, medications, and surgical methods impact fixes.

 

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Male Infertility

Infertility issue among couples is no longer a secretive notion as approximately 15% of them experience fertility problems. Traditionally and due to several taboos in our society, male infertility has been thought of as a problem for women only. However, as observed in numerous samples, almost 30% of the infertility cases reported were due to the male partner alone and were somehow involved in infertility about half the time. It’s time to normalize the growing concern of male infertility and provide relevant information to resolve fertility problems in males whilst bursting various societal myths.

In this blog, we attempt to provide practical causes, diagnoses, and Ayurveda-backed treatments of male infertility.

Causes of male infertility:

In men, the ability to get a partner pregnant requires several different processes and hormones. Majorly, the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands are responsible for producing male sex hormones to the brain. Dysfunction or hindering complications in either or both of them can lead to the stoppage of fertilizing sperm and may impact the intensity of sperm count.

Following are the major causes of male infertility:

  1. Blockage of sperms passage
  2. Low sperm count or Oligospermia
  3. Functional Problems
  4. Hormonal Problems

Blockage of sperms passage

Sperms are made in testicles and require 2-10 days to pass through a series of small tubes called ‘Epididymis’ before being matured to exit from a larger tube called the ‘Vas Deferens’.

In this process, the vas deferens empty the sperm into the ejaculatory duct, where they are mixed with seminal fluid from the seminal vesicles and the prostate gland.

During ejaculation or intercourse, the muscular contractions from such glands force the semen into the urethra and make the sperm come out of the penis. Therefore, blockages or absence of tubes (including vas deferens) is a significant cause, as seen in one of every three cases of male infertility. It can also be due to some injury in tubes, better termed as ‘Vasectomy’.

Unhealthy lifestyle

High intoxication of alcohol and other drugs, smoking, and a lethargic lifestyle can be one crucial reason for deterring one’s sex life. The reduced physical activities and nutritious foods in the dietary schedule can lead to increased stress levels and lower production of male sex hormones (specifically testosterone).

Low sperm count or Oligospermia

It is considered that the issue of low sperm count or deficiency in sperm quality is caused due to genetic imbalances. Tiny fragments of the male chromosome may be missing in some men with sperm problems. This may be caused due to Absence of sperm (Azoospermia): It is the case when the semen doesn’t count the sperm. It may be caused due to the blockage or absence of the sperm-producing tubes in the testicles.

Abnormal sperm shape

It is  a healthy sperm is shaped like a streamlined tadpole. Abnormally shaped sperm may have problems penetrating the surface of the woman’s egg. Poor Motility: A healthy streamlined sperm has a lashing tail that swims its way out through women’s reproductive glands. Having sperms with poor motility may reduce its ability to swim or stop it as a whole.

Functional Problems

Functional problems that can cause or contribute to male fertility are as follows:

Impotence: The dysfunctional problems in the penis that hinders it from maintaining its erection during a sexual encounter Ejaculation problems: Either the semen falsely enters the bladder and not through the penis, or cases of premature ejaculation are observed.

Prostatectomy: The problem of penis dysfunction being observed post completion of removal of prostate glands

Formulation of antibodies: Although temporarily observed, the presence of a high number of antibodies in our immune system may affect the sperm’s ability to enter female reproductive glands.

Hormonal Problems

The intensive levels of sperms secreted via male sex hormones are primarily regulated by a series of glands, the pituitary gland in the brain being a major one. The pituitary gland in the

The brain influences hormone production in the testicles under the guidance of the hypothalamus. This becomes the relatively uncommon cause of male infertility due to its failure to produce enough hormones.

Diagnosis of male infertility

Diagnosis of male infertility cases can be complexly difficult to examine and requires patience from both parties involved. It is usually related to the problem of sperm production or delivery. Diagnosis starts with the doctor attempting to know the prior history of the patient and further allocate appropriate tests. Following is a structural explanation:

Prior history and tests

In order to understand how your body works during intercourse, your doctor shall ask for a couple of health-related questions. These might include your childhood illness, current health disorders, intoxicating habits, or any other medication that might harm the production of sperm. Your health officer shall take some tests or physical exams as well to understand better the functionality of your sperm production mechanism in your penis, epididymis, vas deferens, and testicles.

Semen Analysis

Semen analysis is a regular laboratory test to examine male infertility, which attempts to find the intensity of sperm count and checks whether the sperm collected is functional or not for its motility and spearheaded shape. Such a report taken is usually formulated twice to provide results with ideal accuracy, given that the semen count was abnormal in the first. Semen analysis report depicts whether you are capable of conceiving (start a pregnancy) or not. The treatment prescribed post the analysis will vary on several ranges of sperm count levels, and even if the report shows no presence of semen, the treatment for the same is still applicable.

Ultrasound Scans

An ultrasound scan uses sound waves bouncing off an organ to depict its shape and functionality in male infertility cases. Your doctor may order an ultrasound scan over your rectum to observe if the sperm passages are blocked or not. The health care provider can see if the structures such as the ejaculatory duct or seminal vesicles are poorly formed or blocked.

 

Treatment of male infertility

Male infertility treatments specifically focus on improving sperm count, sperm motility, and its functional problems of premature ejaculation and erection dysfunction. In most cases, the male partner has enough semen count of conceiving with female partner’s egg in a test tube, and such couples are further assisted with Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART).

The treatment for male infertility varies from advancements in surgical methods to natural ways of Ayurveda, dietary beneficiaries, and impacting exercise.

Surgical methods

In cases where the bloating of veins inside the testes (varicocele) is found, surgical methods are apt treatment measures to remove the sperm passage blockages. Such an obstruction in the transport system of the male reproductive system can be surgically removed, which might have been caused by an injury or vasectomy.

Healthy Lifestyle

Although there hasn’t been much of a finding on whether a change in lifestyle might dramatically affect male infertility, there is no harm in discontinuing intoxication of alcohol, tobacco, and other injurious drugs. High stress and health disorders like high blood pressure and diabetes also threaten semen production counts. A prescribed balance of macro and micro foods in dietary schedules becomes equally important.

 

Ayurvedic Treatment

The evidence of the backing of Ayurveda for improving fertility problems dates back to 5000 B.C. Following are some of the recommended Ayurveda supplements, which are highly acknowledged by various scientists as well:

  • Mucuna Pruriens (Kawach)
  • Shilajit
  • Safed Musli
  • Ashwagandha

 

Physical Activeness

The physical endurance and the ability to practice a highly intense form of activities is a major aspect of improving sex life. Sexual intercourse and other inter-related intimacies are a type of physical activity only, and hence, it becomes crucially important to undertake measures for the same. Any form of cardio and bodyweight training can be immensely helpful.

Although any form of sporting plays will be equally entertained, however, it is advised to undertake some form of bodyweight training. It is so as any form of resistance applied to your body will release male hormones such as testosterone and will help in enhancing your sexual stamina and improve hormonal intensity. Also, it will strengthen your arms and abdominal muscles, which are actively involved in intercourse.

 

Conclusion

Male fertility is a common issue these days, and it’s high time we normalize the acceptance of such a growing concern in society. With the scientific development and the adequate backing of Ayurveda and yogic exercises, it is possible to cure any deficiency seen in semen production.

 

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