If youâ€™re reading this then you probably already have an idea of what a varicocele is so Iâ€™ll spare you the technical details.
Instead, Iâ€™ll share some of my personal experiences with living with a varicocele and practical measures you can take to mitigate the problems associated with varicocele.
First off, Iâ€™m not a doctor, just a well-informed patient who has done a LOT of homework on this subject. When it comes to the boys downtown, thereâ€™s no messing around!
Itâ€™s important that youâ€™re actually sure you have a varicocele. Several similar conditions (such as epididymitis, for example) have similar symptoms and the only reliable way to diagnose varicocele is using ultrasound technology. Additionally, you may wish to use so called â€œDoppler ultrasoundâ€ which shows blood pressure in the scanned area and can confirm constricted blood flow.
If you havenâ€™t had an ultrasound done, you simply canâ€™t be 100% positive that what you have is actually a varicocele, so get one done. If your doctor doesnâ€™t feel itâ€™s necessary, itâ€™s up to you to politely insist!
Even experienced doctors misdiagnose conditions and to effectively treat something, you have to know the â€˜somethingâ€™ that youâ€™re treating, particularly if itâ€™s something you canâ€™t see and something that shares symptoms with other conditions.
Things You Will Need
You'll need some patience and drive to do a little research.
I 19m a big believer that letting a doctor snip around in your body, down around the jewels no less, should be a very last resort.
For that reason, I 19ll cover your non-surgical treatment options here.
The majority of varicoceles are harmless.
The concern about varicocele is based upon the idea that the local inflammation caused by varicocele causes an increase in temperature in the area surrounding the testes, which can have negative repercussions for sperm quality. Other comorbidities may include testicular atrophy on the side of the varicocele (usually the left side) and partial or complete infertility.
These are certainly serious concerns but occur relatively infrequently.
Once your varicocele has been reliably diagnosed, it 19s a good idea to visit a fertility clinic and submit a sample for semen analysis. The numbers will serve as a baseline measurement of sperm quality, which will allow you to track any changes over time.
Since a varicocele is essentially an enlarged and tortuous vein, common sense would dictate that the first measures you ought to take are to reduce systemic inflammation.
A study done in Italy demonstrated a marked improvement of sperm quality parameters among varicocele sufferers using an anti-inflammatory drug (cinnoxicam) and L-carnitine and acetyl-L-Carnitine in combination.
From the National Library of Medicine (this document is in the public domain):
The objective of this study was to detect a therapy for idiopathic and varicocele-associated oligoasthenospermia (OAT). Idiopathic and varicocele OAT patients were randomized into 3 groups. Each group was composed of varying degrees of left varicoceles (graded into 5 grades with echo-color Doppler) and of idiopathic OATs. Group 1 used a placebo, group 2 used oral L-carnitine (2 g/d) + acetyl-L-carnitine (1 g/d), group 3 used L-carnitine/acetyl-L-carnitine + 1 x 30-mg cinnoxicam suppository every 4 days. Drugs were administered for 6 months. The groups were composed as follows: group 1, 71 varicoceles and 47 idiopathic OATs; group 2, 62 varicoceles and 39 idiopathic OATs; group 3, 62 varicoceles and 44 idiopathic OATs. Sperm concentration, motility, and morphology before during and after treatments were assessed. Pregnancy rates and side effects were recorded. Group 1 did not have modified sperm patterns during treatment. Group 2 had significantly increased sperm patterns at 3 and 6 months into therapy in idiopathic patients and in patients with grades I, II, and III varicocele, but not in grades IV and V. Group 3 had significantly increased sperm parameters in all patients, with the exception of grade V varicocele. Group 3 sperm patterns proved significantly higher during therapy than group 2. All sperm patterns fell to baseline after therapy suspension. Minor side effects occurred. Pregnancy rates were 1.7% (group 1), 21.8% (group 2), and 38.0% (group 3) (P <.01 l-carnitine="" cinnoxicam="" suppositories="" proved="" a="" reliable="" treatment="" for="" low-grade="" varicoceles="" and="" idiopathic="" oats.="" style="">
L-carnitine and Acetyl-L-Carnitine are both widely available and perfectly safe supplements up to 3 grams a day each.
To further reduce systemic inflammation, I have experimented with various quantities of fish oil and krill oil, which are potent natural anti-inflammatory substances and quite safe even in so called megadoses.
Furthermore, fish oil and krill oil thin the blood, which
may help to improve circulation.
While many would disagree, I conjecture that a paleo diet is the optimal diet for varicocele sufferers as it eliminates grains and dairy, which are extremely inflammatory, and focuses on foods that increase testosterone production (high cholesterol, high fat, high protein).
As you can see, the general approach to treating varicocele here is to help the body help itself.
Ice baths have been shown to improve sperm quality significantly as well as reduce systemic inflammation.
Exercise is vital. Resistance training, which elicits the greatest hormonal response compared to lighter training options, is important to include. Equally important is adequate recovery and rest. Exercise can actually cause severe systemic inflammation when overdone.
I 19ve observed a correlation between intra-abdominal pressure and felt pain in the area of my varicocele when doing power breathing. If you regularly practice power breathing, kegels, the Valsalva maneuver or anything that causes a sharp rise in blood pressure, reconsider the frequency with which you practice these things, as they may correlate with a flare-up in varicocele pain.
Make sure you are getting adequate quantities of vitamins and minerals. There are widely available nutrient assays that insurance may cover. Optimizing nutrient levels can have huge consequences for the body. Correcting Vitamin D deficiency, alone, can increase fast twitch muscle growth tremendously. In my experience, mood, libido and testicular consistency correlate with Vitamin D levels.
Overdosing on vitamins and minerals is just as bad as underdosing. Experiment with the levels and get tested regularly otherwise you 19re simply shooting in the dark.
The most important thing to remember about varicocele is that you have tons of power in your own hands to treat yourself intelligently and that nobody has as much motivation as you.