Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What is a varicocelectomy?

Mary asked me to explain how the surgery could help M's SA numbers, so I thought I would share a little of what I have learned on this topic for those of you following along.

*Please note, this explanation is in layman's terms and that I am no doctor! This might not be completely accurate! But I thought it would be a little less boring and more understandable than just linking to an article...

A varicocele is an enlarged mass of veins in the scr.otum. Really, it is just like varicose veins that people get in their legs, it's just in a different place. :) It also causes pain, which my DH had, and tends to get worse over time. 10-20% of all men have a varicocele, but it does not always cause infertility. According to TCOYF, 30-40% of infertile men have a varicocele.

The reason it can cause infertility is still somewhat of a medical mystery. The most likely reason seems to be that the extra blood causes too much heat where the sperm are, kind of like sitting in a hot tub all day (which we know our DH's aren't supposed to do if we're TTC!). The surgery ties off the enlarged veins to normalize the blood flow to the scr.otum, which will reduce the temperature and hopefully improve SA #'s. I have also read that varicoceles can lower testosterone -- I have no idea how (and my DH's hormone levels were normal). But lowered testosterone also effects SA #'s and a host of other health problems.

There was a large study done that did not show any greater success between infertile men who had a varicocele repair surgery to those who did not -- that they impregnated their partners at roughly the same percentage rate. But then there was another study done that kind of refuted that study. So I think there is a lot of mixed opinions out there about the surgery, and from what I've read it seems like urologists say do it and RE's say don't bother. (hmm... do you think there is any correlation between who gets the $$$??)

Hope that helps you understand what we're doing and why. It takes about 72 days for sperm to regenerate, so we're waiting a little over 3 months to retest and see if the surgery helps DH's motility number. The urologist said the surgery has the best rates of success for motility out of all the SA parameters, which was good to hear (but again, I don't really know why).


Mary said...

Thank you so much, Hillary:) That was a great description and now I understand exactly what the situation is. I can't wait for his next SA. That will be incredible to see how well the surgery worked. Soon you can work on your 'Caroline', lol.

Caroline said...

Hi Hillary,

Thanks for posting that information. I can understand your husband's situation now.

I hope that the next three months fly by and you can then TTC. We'll be keeping you company.

PS I'm so glad you guys like my name(although I didn't have much say in choosing it!)

In Due Time said...

I hope the next few months fly by so you can start TTC again. :-)

WantWait&Pray said...

Good luck! I'll be so interested to hear how things go! My husband has a varicocele as well...but being that it's so small (subclinical) they didn't reccommend surgery as they can't say that it's the reason that we're experiencing IF. I have to believe it is.....but we decided that we'd repair it, most likely, after we have 1 successful pregnancy.

Fallopian 'Tudes said...

Wow, I learned something today! :)
Now I just hope the time passes quickly for you guys and you can find out how well it worked, I have my fingers crossed for you!

Anonymous said...

After my Dh's op his motility went from 10 to 50% but morph stayed the same. We still didnt get preg but at least we had better sperm to work with in the IVF. I have PCOS aswell so that could be an issue. My dh also had pain so it was neccessary to do the op regardless of whether it helped the sperm.