What happens if a varicocele is left untreated?

According to a study by the world health organization (WHO), 25.4% of infertile men with abnormal semen and testicle shrinkage were found to have varicocele. 1 The article discusses the most common question that a guy with a varicocele asks: What happens if a varicocele is left untreated?

Infertility is a global health issue and it affects both genders. A varicocele, if left untreated may cause various health problems such as infertility (problem fathering a child), low testosterone, testicular shrinkage, lower sperm production, and many other symptoms.

 A varicocele is the swelling of the veins that carry blood from the testicles to the heart for oxygenation. The valves inside the veins sometimes malfunction and the blood starts flowing in the wrong direction, this causes blood to pool in the veins.

The accumulation of blood causes pressure on the vein and exposes the vein to toxicity from blood toxins.

The testicles need a lower temperature than the rest of the body to function properly. However, varicocele raises the temperature around the testicles and damages them.

A varicocele normally does not show any symptoms and remains the same size without causing any complications. However, sometimes it can grow in size and cause pain or discomfort in the scrotum.

What happens if a varicocele is left untreated?
What happens if a varicocele is left untreated?

What happens if a varicocele is left untreated:

Increased pain

As the size of the varicocele increases, the pain and discomfort will also increase. Your doctor might give you pain relief medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen for the pain.

Wearing an athletic supporter can also help with the pain.

Testicular shrinkage

The affected testicle will start to shrink over time. A testicle mostly contains sperm-producing tubules, varicocele damages the testicle, and it may not produce enough sperm, as a result, it starts to shrink and becomes soft.

Low testosterone

Testicles are also known to produce most of the testosterone hormone in males. However, a damaged testicle is unable to produce the required concentration of testosterone hormone for the body.

Guys with lower testosterone may also see a shift in the fat storage capacity in different areas of the body. Like women, they might also store more fat on the hips, thighs, and chest.


Many studies have related varicocele with infertility, as well as poor sperm motility, function, and formation.

Several clinical and experimental studies have reported the effect of varicocele on reduced testosterone and infertility. 2

However, these studies also show that surgical treatment of varicocele such as microscopic and laparoscopic varicocelectomy can increase testosterone production and sperm count in the body. Therefore, varicocele repair has a huge effect on fertility as it can improve semen quality. 3, 4

Symptoms of A varicocele:

  • Development of soft lump above the testicle. It normally feels like a bag of worms when you roll your fingers over it.
  • Pain or heaviness in the scrotum due to blood pooling which causes lump formation
  • Infertility in males is one of the major problems that a varicocele causes. It can decrease sperm function and quality.

How can you prevent a varicocele:

When the body goes through puberty, the testicles need more blood as they are growing quickly. If the valves in the blood vessels are not working properly then the blood starts pooling which can cause a varicocele.

In older people, poor blood circulation can cause a varicocele.

However, there are some things that you can do to prevent a varicocele from happening:

  • Wear a comfortable underwear
  • Avoid lifting heavyweight as this exerts more pressure on the stomach and ultimately on the veins in the scrotum
  • Perform Yoga asanas to prevent varicocele development
  • Stay fit and active by regularly performing the exercise
  • Eat a fiber-rich diet and avoid smoking or alcohol
  • Treat constipation by consuming a fiber-rich diet as constipation can exert more pressure on the veins in the scrotum


A varicocele may cause the above-mentioned symptoms, but most of all, it affects a person mentally, which can be attributed to the loss of sexual function, muscular strength, and sperm production.

So, what happens if a varicocele is left untreated? The answer is really simple; Any health condition will worsen over time if not treated.

To sum up, you must first check with a doctor if you have a varicocele in the first place or some other condition; Get proper treatment through pain relievers, antibiotics, or natural treatment, all by consulting a doctor; take precautions to prevent it from growing more in size.

About the author

Deepanshu has a Master's in chemistry. He has worked extensively on research subjects regarding cancer and radio nuclear science and has continually reviewed nutrition science.

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