Understanding how a varicocele can affect male fertility
Both female and male fertility issues can make it hard for a couple to conceive. One cause of male fertility is a varicocele. This condition occurs when a man has enlarged veins in the scrotum that drain the testicles, most commonly on the left side. When this happens, a man may or may not experience symptoms. While some men may feel a dull pain, others may not feel anything. Regardless of whether a man has physical symptoms, he may experience fertility issues due to the condition. Thankfully, our San Antonio fertility doctor, Erika Munch MD, can help men and couples facing this issue.
It’s not uncommon for a man to have a varicocele
About 10% to 15% of all men of reproductive age have this condition. Forty percent of men facing fertility struggles have one. While a varicocele can cause fertility issues, it does not always cause infertility. As a result, the condition’s exact effect on fertility is controversial among fertility doctors and urologists.
Finding effective treatments to restore fertility and relieve discomfort
Varicocele treatment may vary depending on the symptoms. For example, a man suffering from pain due to a varicocele should see an experienced urologist for consideration of surgical repair. However, a man who has fertility issues and no pain will usually not need surgery. Our San Antonio fertility doctor and most other fertility specialists will generally only recommend surgical repair for fertility in specific cases:
- The varicocele is large.
- The varicocele is causing symptoms such as pain or heaviness in the scrotum.
- Sperm testing is not normal.
Patients should realize that it can take several months after the surgery to see maximum improvement on a semen analysis. It is also important to know that some men do not experience any improvement in sperm parameters after the procedure, and some may even have worse results after varicocele repair.
If surgical repair is not appropriate or the patient does not want to pursue it, Dr. Munch may suggest fertility treatments like intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). These treatments may allow the patient and his partner to conceive faster. However, pregnancy success rates and time to conception depend on other factors like the female partner’s age.
If you have a varicocele and are facing fertility issues, our San Antonio fertility doctor can help you determine the best course of treatment. Contact us to schedule an appointment and learn more.