Varicoceles occurs when there is an enlarged group of veins in the scrotum, and is found in about 15 percent of all men. It has been believed that it is one of the main causes for male infertility; and in fact 40 percent of all men who seek infertility treatment are reported to have this condition. The remedy is surgery or embolization, which blocks the blood supply to the varicoceles.
But a review coming out of the Netherlands is challenging this belief. After reviewing 8 studies that looked at 607 men, the researchers determined that there was no evidence that linked varicoceles treatment with a couple’s increased chance of conceiving. Dr. Evens, the lead researcher and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Academisch Ziekenhuis, believes that in light of this study the treatment of varicoceles should not be recommended as an initial step in a fertility plan.
As you can imagine, there are many studies that also support the treatment of varicoceles as a beneficial procedure for couples struggling to conceive. In addition, Joel Marmar who is a professor of urology, challenges this study review claiming that the results may be a bit convoluted. He claims that not all men with varicoceles are infertile and that in their study, there were men with small varicoceles and normal semen, which would impact their findings. In addition, Marmar feels that the study should look at the 2 treatment plans of surgery and embolization separately, and not group them together since they are clearly different procedures. He also adds that most doctors will only suggest this procedure if the presence of varicoceles is in conjunction with documented abnormal semen.