Varicocele is name for varicose veins surrounding the testicle. These veins become enlarged, trapping blood around the testicle that can cause damage to sperm through heat and other mechanisms.

Approximately 15% of all men have a varicocele. While not all men with a varicocele will have difficulty with fertility, this condition is the cause of infertility in a substantial proportion of men.

To identify this condition, your Northwestern Medicine reproductive urologist will perform a thorough physical examination to identify signs of varicocele.

Varicocele can be treated with a microsurgical procedure to close off the enlarged veins. This can lead to healthier semen and sperm, and even natural pregnancy in a sexual partner as early as three months after the procedure.

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