What is a varicocele and how does it affect male fertility

What is a varicocele and how does it affect male fertility

Change is the only constantas very rightly said by Heraclitus. Since the day we were born, to this day, all of us, indeed have come a really long way.  Even science and technology have progressed so much that nothing seems impossible now. Almost all diseases have found a cure, just like every problem has a solution, whether big or small. Thanks to medical science and the power of the internet, everything is available at one’s fingertips. 

All diseases are discomforting, but there are many, which people are still not too comfortable talking about. Varicocele is one of them. Varicocele is a condition in which the veins in the male scrotum that carry the low-oxygen blood back to the heart from the testicles get swollen due to an improper flow of blood. Varicocele causes include defects in the veins network or an irregular flow of blood. When this happens, the blood gets collected in the veins, unable to pass freely, which leads to the swelling. In other words, varicocele is similar to varicose veins. They can be completely painless, but not in all the cases. Varicocele causes a lot of discomfort, along with pain ranging from mild to moderate, even sharp pain in some cases.

Varicoceles is a serious condition to say the least, if not life threatening. This is so because varicocele causes:

  • Fertility issues in men leading to difficulty in conceiving.
  • Low production of testosterone which might cause erectile dysfunction in extreme cases
  • Discomfort in the scrotum causing testicular atrophy, i.e. shrinkage of the testicles
  • Decrease in sperm count
  • Low motility of the sperms or asthenozoospermia (sperms moving too slow)
  • Inefficient sperm quality leading to reproduction problems

All of these problems are either painful or extremely discomforting which develop with time as the blood gets collected in the veins.  Many cases of varicocele do not require any treatment and get better on their own with time. This is why often varicoceles aren’t treated unless they create an additional problem or the symptoms worsen. However, if correctly diagnosed it is wise to get varicocele treatment to avoid other related health issues and before the condition gets worse.

There are mainly two categories into which varicocele treatment is segregated namely:

    1. Surgical: it is a varicocele treatment , known as varicoelectomy. There are three kinds of surgical treatment:
      • Open surgery:  It is a one day procedure that does not require staying in the hospital, and patients can be discharged couple of hours after the surgery. In this case, the urologist diagnoses the groin area, finding the problem causing vein and repairs it so that the blood flow can resume normally. This is done under general anaesthesia.
      • Microsurgery: it is very much similar to the open surgery, but with additional microscopic view that helps the surgeon to see more clearly and know about the problem area in a better way. It has got much high succession rates when compared to other surgery options.
      • Laparoscopic surgery: a small incision is made in the abdomen post which a tiny instrument is passed through the neck or the groin area to see clearly and remove the varicocele. This too requires a general anesthesia.
    2. Non surgical: there are various ways for varicocele treatment without surgery, which are highly sought after as well, due to high success rates and ease of approach. These methods require few changes in the daily diet or lifestyle, or the use of medications and supplements to treat varicoceles without the requirement of a surgical procedure. These include:
      1. Yoga: through ages, yoga has been viewed as a magical tool that has an answer to almost all health issues. Varicoceles too can be treated well through yoga, by following a few aasanas and doing them regularly. Few poses or aasanas that help in varicocele treatment are legs on the wall pose , in which the upper body lies on the yoga mat on the floor, the lower back supported by a pillow, with the legs up, supported by the wall. It helps to improve blood circulation in the lower body. It also helps in cooling of the testicles, provides relaxation and eliminates stress. Few other poses to help with the varicocele treatment are shavasana, dhanurasana etc. Pranayam and other breathing exercises help with increase in blood flow and stress removal as well.
      2. Meditation: just like performing yoga, meditation too has cooling effect on the mind and the body. It helps with reduction of stress; thereby I creasing the blood flow throughout the body.
      3. Cooling it up: Too hot temperature of the testicles leads to infertility. A cool shower is a great way to cure varicocele as well. Cool water (not too cold or chilly) helps in reducing the body temperature, thereby reducing the testicular temperature as well, that helps with reducing pain and swelling.
      4. Diet mindness: watching what you eat is very essential these days. Including lot of fiber, fruits and vegetables in the diet has a numerous benefits. It leads to smooth blood flow throughout the body as well. Too many chemicals in the diet and taking a lot of processed food daily can cause constipation which is too, a main cause of varicocele. 
      5. Getting special varicocele underwear: there is special underwear in the market that helps those with varicoceles. Not too fancy, they are commonly known by the name boxer briefs. They provide optimum support to the scrotum, and allow the blood flow to happen normally around the area. They also help with pain eduction in case the person already has a painful varicocele. The underwear needs to be the right fitting – not too tight or loose. It would ensure that the blood flow is happening properly and the temperature is maintained so that the testicles do not get too hot.
      6. Swimming: a gret exercise and awesome way out to maintain the temperature of the testicles, swimming is one of the ways for varicocele treatment without surgery. Swimming not only reduces stress which is essential for healthy blood flow throughout the body, it also helps to cool down the testicles and thereby maintain the optimum temperature.
      7. Cooling pads: just like hot pads to reduce pain and inflammation, cooling pads are used to reduce pain and swelling around the testicles. An ice pack needs to be placed on the skin over a layer of 2-3 towels beneath so that the ice doesn’t touch the bare skin or it would do more harm than good, there should be a cooling sensation that’s it. Continuous usage of cooling pads over the skin helps reduce the swelling and might be helpful in varicocele treatment without surgery.
      8. Health supplements: a daily dosage of health supplements like zinc, bioflavonoids, vitamin C and vitamin E twice or thrice during the day helps to cure varicocele. This is so because many a times out diet lacks these essential supplements so it’s good to include them as supplements with the diet. However, medical advice must be taken before beginning with any health supplements or it could aggravate any pre existing health condition. Medications like Tylenol and ibuprofen help as well, but again, physician’s approval is a must before taking any of these.

Ayurvedic supplements like sukumaram kashyam, chirivilwadi kashyam and Chandraprabha vati that constitute the varicocele kit by Nirogam, are a good option to be included as health supplements as well. These comprise of various ayurvedic herbs that help to treat varicocele, increase the sperm count and also treat piles. 

Varicoceles can be extremely  discomforting, and lead to many problems if not treated on time, however most of the males aren’t too comfortable on speaking it out loud that they have a problem, which continues till the problem aggravates a lot and it’s not possible to treat it without any medications. By following the tips above, we can ensure a healthy and happy life for everyone, to keep any such issues at bay. After all, in a healthy body, lives a healthy mind, isn’t it so?

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