Varicoceles: prevalence and pathogenesis in adult men

We discuss the prevalence and anatomic features of varicocele as well as the leading theories for how varicocele can negatively affect fertility potential and testosterone production.

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Volume 108, Issue 3, Pages 364–369


Raul I. Clavijo, M.D., Robert Carrasquillo, M.D., Ranjith Ramasamy, M.D.


Varicocele, or dilation of the pampiniform venous plexus, affects up to 15% of men. However, few of these men encounter problems with fertility. This discrepancy between men with varicocele and the number of adversely affected men has led to abundant research to identify the mechanisms for formation of varicocele as well as the pathologic mechanisms by which varicoceles affect fertility potential. In this review, we discuss the prevalence of varicocele in adults, the anatomic features of varicocele, the leading theories as to how varicocele can negatively affect fertility potential, and finally, the current literature on the impact of varicocele on testosterone production.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.