Varicocelectomy is the surgical treatment of varicose veins in and above the scrotum. These veins drain blood from the testicles, and when their valves malfunction to form swollen varicose veins, the blood may pool in the testicles rather than draining properly. This can result in increased temperature in the area. Because sperm develops best slightly below core body temperature, these impaired veins (varicoceles) can cause or contribute to infertility.
Varicocelectomy is surgery designed to improve the blood flow by closing the impaired veins, thus re-routing the blood through the healthy veins that are still working properly.
FertilitySmarts explains Varicocelectomy
Although repairing varicoceles can improve sperm quality and count, experts disagree over whether this increases the chance of paternity. Some studies have found no difference in eventual paternity between men who had their varicoceles repaired and those who did not.
However, symptomatic varicoceles are more common in infertile men: 40% of infertile men suffer from this condition, compared to 12-15% of fertile men. Possibly, the use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) accounts for the similar paternity rate among men who do not have their varicocele repaired compared with those who did. For this reason, the repair of varicoceles is often recommended as a first step for infertile men.
An alternative technique to varicocelectomy is a microsurgical technique called percutaneous embolization, in which a small incision is made in a vein in the neck or groin, and a catheter is threaded through the blood vessel until it reaches the veins to be repaired and blocks them off by introducing a small balloon or coil.