A varicocele is a disorder in which the veins coming from the testicle are dilated, or widened, because of a problem with the valves that control the flow of blood from the testicles to the body. As a result, blood tends to pool in the veins in the spermatic cord, the cord that runs from the testicle into the body.

Varicocele is a fairly common condition; it affects nearly 1 in 5 men in the United States. Most varicoceles are noticed when a man is a teenager, but varicoceles can happen at any time in a man’s life. Because of the structure of a man’s anatomy, varicoceles are more common in the left side, but can occur in either, or both, spermatic cords.

What are the symptoms of varicocele?

Most men with a varicocele will not have symptoms. Some men, however, may feel a dull discomfort in the affected testicle, especially after exercising, standing for a long time, or at the end of the day. The discomfort will usually improve when the man lies down.

The testicle on the same side as the varicocele may be smaller than expected. If the varicocele is repaired in childhood or adolescence, the testicle may grow to “catch up” in size. Testicle size does not increase when the varicocele is repaired in adults.