A varicocele is a swelling in the veins above the testicles. It's similar to a varicose vein in the legs. The swelling happens when too much blood collects in the veins. It most often occurs around the left testicle. A varicocele may cause the sac of skin covering the testicles (the scrotum) to have a bluish color. It may also cause an achy or heavy feeling in the scrotum. The pain may be worse later in the day or after you've been standing for a long time. Some varicoceles can be seen all the time. Others can be seen only when you're standing. Or they may be seen only when a Valsalva maneuver is done. This means bearing down in your belly (abdomen) to increase pressure.

In most cases, a varicocele isn't serious. It doesn't need to be treated. But it's linked to being unable to have a child (infertility). If you and your partner are trying to have a baby, talk with your healthcare provider about your options.

Penis, scrotum and testicles showing normal veins and varicocele.

No medicines are available to fix this condition. Surgery can be done to close off the enlarged veins. A varicocele is not serious. And all surgery has risks. So you and your provider may consider surgery only if:

  • The pain becomes worse or you have new symptoms

  • The testicle shrinks (atrophy)

  • You want to try to improve your fertility

Home care

To help reduce discomfort, aching, or pain:

  • Wear a jockstrap or snug underwear

  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised. Schedule regular exams with your provider so the varicocele can be watched. Keep all your appointments. Tell your provider if you see any changes in your testicles or scrotum.

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • More pain in your scrotum

  • Trouble peeing

  • A lump in the testicle

  • A bulge in the groin area appears or gets bigger

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