Can Varicoceles Affect Testosterone Production?
Low testosterone: more common than you think
It’s been estimated that almost 13 million men in the United States have abnormally low levels of testosterone, the main male sex hormone. Low testosterone can cause a whole range of side effects, including a low sex drive, weight gain, reduced energy levels, and trouble sleeping. No one wants any of those, right? Yet nine out of every ten men will not seek treatment, often because they’re in denial, they’re embarrassed, or they think these symptoms are an ordinary sign of aging.
It’s important to remember that a lot of men struggle with this condition, and that it’s treatable.
Diagnosis and treatment
It’s easy to check for low testosterone: you just need a blood test. Treatment is a little more complicated, but that’s because there are several options. One is testosterone replacement therapy. Another uses pills containing a substance called clomiphene citrate that stimulates your body’s testosterone production.
While it’s tempting to try to and solve the problem by taking a pill or getting a shot, these approaches sometimes treat the symptom instead of the cause. They also have some possible side effects, such as acne and prostate enlargement. There’s a common cause of low testosterone that, if you treat it, you won’t need to keep taking pills or getting shots.
How varicoceles can lower testosterone levels
About one in every five men — and by “men,” I mean any guy who’s been through or started puberty — has an abnormality in his scrotum called a varicocele. It’s basically a bundle of enlarged veins. In a varicocele, the valves that keep blood moving don’t work well, so the blood collects and swells the veins. This heats up the testes, which causes lower production of testosterone and sperm.
Varicoceles typically don’t cause pain in the testicles or interfere with orgasm or ejaculation. Because of this, a lot of men don’t realize they have a varicocele unless it becomes really large. But fixing a varicocele can cause testosterone levels to return to normal levels.
How to find and fix a varicocele
Most varicoceles are easy to detect. You can usually feel them when your scrotum is relaxed, such as after a warm shower. They can feel like a lump or like a bag of worms. They can also make your scrotum hang low or look lopsided. If you’re not sure, your health care provider or urologist can check for you.
If you have a varicocele, there are a few surgical options and procedures, and they’re all relatively simple, with fast recovery times. They all involve redirecting the blood flow in your scrotum by tying off or blocking the veins that aren’t working properly. If you have this done, it’s likely to boost your testosterone as well as your sperm count and overall fertility.
So, if your sex drive seems low and you’re feeling flabby, tired or depressed, take a hot shower and check your testicles. Or call your urologist for a varicocele diagnosis.
The problem could be right in front of you.
If you want to find out more about varicoceles or come in for an examination, contact Dr. Harry Fisch in New York for a consultation.