How can I treat a varicocele at home?
At-home treatment options for varicoceles include:
- No treatment: If a varicocele doesn’t bother you or cause fertility problems, you may not need treatment.
- Routine changes: You may choose to avoid certain activities that trigger discomfort. Wearing tighter fitting underwear (like spandex) or a jockstrap can ease symptoms due to exercise or long periods of standing.
- Ice: Applying cold packs to the scrotum may help you feel better. To protect your skin, don’t apply ice directly to skin. Wrap ice packs or cold gel packs in a towel and use it for about 15 minutes at a time.
- Over-the-counter medication: Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may take the edge off any minor scrotal or testicle aching that becomes distracting.
What is varicocele surgery?
Your provider may recommend surgery if the condition is painful or negatively impacts your life. In varicocele surgery, a urologist (a doctor specializing in male reproductive organs) clips or ties off the veins that are causing symptoms. The clips stop blood from flowing through those veins.
The surgery is an outpatient procedure, meaning you go home the same day. Most people can return to work about three days after surgery and resume exercise and sexual activity in a week or two. You might still be able to feel a varicocele after surgery, but the veins will no longer be connected to the rest of the body and will no longer cause pain or harm to sperm production.
Many men choose to have surgery to improve fertility. Several studies have found that sperm numbers and motility (sperm’s ability to reach the egg) improve after varicocele surgery. Couples who have the varicocele fixed may be 40% to 50% more likely to get pregnant than couples who don’t.