Male Infertility & Varicocele

The concept of male infertility is quite complex and often shrouded in mystery due to the lack of open communication. People have stigmatized the discussion or are too ashamed to seek medical advice because of societal pressure and scrutiny.

In India, a study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research depicts that around 20-40% of the country’s male population struggles with infertility. While the numbers seem small, they account for millions of men who are struggling with some form of infertility concern.

While various factors contribute to fertility problems in men, one condition that often comes under scrutiny is varicocele. With so much wrong information is going around, this article focuses on shedding light on what varicocele truly is and its connection with male infertility.

Breaking down the Basics of Male Infertility

Before we discuss further the connection between varicocele and male infertility, let us shift our focus to what male infertility is.

Male infertility refers to a man’s inability to contribute to a conception despite engaging in regular unprotected sexual intercourse. There are several factors responsible for the shortcoming, including:

  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Genetic factors
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Reproductive system disorders, etc.

Among these issues, varicocele is often contested as a leading cause behind the onset and prevalence of male infertility, but it is a highly misunderstood disorder.

What is Varicocele?

A varicocele is characterized by the enlargement of veins within the scrotum, the pouch of skin that houses the testicles. This enlargement is similar to varicose veins that occur in the legs.

The condition is relatively common in individuals during their adolescence or even adulthood. Although a fairly common male reproductive disorder, varicocele doesn’t always contribute to male infertility. This is one of the biggest confusions that people have.

Does a man with varicocele experience fertility issues? Yes. Is varicocele the only cause of male infertility? No. Does every man that has a varicocele is infertile? The answer to that again is no.

This explains quite well how people are misinformed when it comes to varicocele and its contribution to male infertility. So, let us break down and dispel the myths.

Myths surrounding Varicocele and Male Infertility

Now that you have a good idea about the basics of male infertility and varicocele, let us walk you through some of the most common myths surrounding them.

Myth 1: Varicocele is Always Symptomatic

Technically, the answer to that is no. The most common myth that people have is that varicocele always manifests with noticeable symptoms, which isn’t necessarily the case.

Many men with varicoceles may not experience any symptoms at all. Some cases are asymptomatic and are only detected during routine physical examinations or fertility evaluations.

In men who do experience the symptoms, it includes discomfort, pain, and also a feeling of heaviness around the scrotum. But that said, we also need to keep in mind that the lack of symptoms doesn’t always indicate that the person might not be suffering from the condition or that it isn’t contributing to fertility issues.

Myth 2: Varicocele Always Leads to Infertility

We touched on this subject briefly, but varicocele doesn’t automatically mean that the person is or will be infertile. This is simply not true because several men do help with a natural conception, even when they have varicocele.

While varicocele has been associated with male infertility, not every man with a varicocele will experience fertility problems. It is essential to recognize that the presence of a varicocele does not automatically imply infertility.

Research suggests that varicoceles may affect fertility by raising the temperature within the scrotum or disrupting blood flow to the testicles. However, the impact varies among individuals, and other factors also play a role in determining fertility.

Myth 3: Varicocele Only Affects Older Men

Next on the list of myths surrounding varicocele and male infertility is thinking that varicocele is an aging disorder, which is simply untrue.

Varicoceles can develop at any age, even adolescence. That said, it is true that the prevalence of the condition does increase and worsen with age, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that younger individuals can also develop varicocele and experience the symptoms that come with it.

This is one of the reasons why early detection and diagnosis is encouraged. If you are feeling pain or discomfort, seeking medical intervention is not merely a choice but it’s a necessity for quick recovery and allied treatment to correct the issue.

Myth 4: Surgical Correction Guarantees Fertility Improvement

If a varicocele is, in fact, altering your fertility, surgical interventions are recommended to correct the issue. Surgical correction of varicocele is termed varicocelectomy and is an effective way to address the concern and improve fertility.

However, not all men will experience desired fertility improvements after surgery. As we mentioned, varicocele is not the sole contributor to male infertility concerns. This means that if correcting the varicocele concerns isn’t contributing to fertility improvement, some other underlying issues are worsening the fertility in the individual.

Success rates for varicocelectomy vary, and factors such as the severity of the varicocele, the duration of infertility, and the presence of other fertility issues can influence outcomes. While some men may see improvements in sperm parameters and fertility, others may not experience the same benefits.

Myth 5: Varicocele is the Sole Cause of Male Infertility

Male infertility, as most medical professionals say, is multifaceted and multifactorial. This means that there is not one but multiple factors contributing to the worsening of the symptoms.

While varicoceles may impact sperm quality and function, other factors such as genetic abnormalities, hormonal imbalances, lifestyle choices (such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption), and certain medications can also play a role in male infertility.

To deduce the exact cause, a comprehensive evaluation is recommended. This includes physical examination, imaging tests, and even blood tests to determine what could be some of the potent causes behind infertility concerns.

Myth 6: Lifestyle Changes Have No Impact on Varicocele and Male Fertility

The kind of lifestyle we lead has profound impacts on our overall health, including our fertility. Varicocele is primarily a physical concern, but switching to a healthy lifestyle from an inactive and unhealthy one can significantly prevent the further progression of the disease.

Research suggests that certain antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, may have a protective effect on sperm function and may benefit men with varicoceles. Additionally, introducing lifestyle modifications complement the medical interventions, contributing to better fertility outcomes.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol intake, can positively impact overall reproductive health.

Myth 7: Varicocele Cannot Recur After Surgical Correction

Surgical interventions like varicocelectomy treat the current varicocele, affecting the patient’s quality of life. Even after the initial surgery, there are chances that varicocele might recur.

Recurrence rates vary, and factors such as surgical technique, patient age, and the presence of collateral blood vessels can influence the likelihood of recurrence.

This is one of the reasons why regular follow-up with your doctor is recommended to ensure that the symptoms are static and not progressing or getting worse after the surgery.


In conclusion, understanding the myths and realities of male infertility, particularly in the context of varicocele, is crucial for informed decision-making and effective management. Simply understanding the impacts of varicocele isn’t enough if you don’t seek medical interventions at the proper times.

At the Fertility Cure Centre, we encourage patients not to brush aside their symptoms. Irrespective of how big or small the symptom is, it requires to be checked out. A comprehensive evaluation is part of preventative reproductive treatment, which preserves fertility and ensures optimal quality of life.

For appointment-related queries, reach out to our team at

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