How is varicocele diagnosed?

The doctor can diagnose a varicocele during a physical examination by palpating, or feeling, the spermatic cord. A varicocele is described as feeling like a bag of worms in the scrotal sac. As mentioned, the testicle with the varicocele may be smaller than the other testicle.

In some cases, the doctor may perform an ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis. Ultrasound, also known as sonography, or ultrasonography, is a procedure that transmits high-frequency sound waves through body tissues. The echoes are recorded and transformed into video or photographs of the inside of the body.

Semen tests and blood tests may be recommended in men with a varicocele who are concerned about their fertility.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/26/2013.


  • Urology Care Foundation/American Urological Association. Varicoceles. Accessed 6/20/2013.
  • Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. Varicocele. Accessed 6/20/2013.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy