Does varicocele treatment improve fertility?
Learn more about varicocele fertility & how you can improve fertility in an easy way.
Improved fertility after varicocele treatment?
It is often read that fertility is affected by varicose veins on the testicles (varicoceles). With this article about varicocele fertility, we would like to share the results of our research on this, controversially discussed, topic and support it with scientific resources. If you have any questions on the topic, please read until the last paragraph of the page where you will find a contact option.
Varicocele fertility: Whether surgical treatment of the varicocele can improve male fertility or not is still a matter of controversy. While many urologists generally advise against an operation despite the desire to have children with no symptoms and a normal spermiogram, others in turn are pushing for an operation. With this post, we will clarify the issue for you and at the same time support you with helpful tips to improve fertility.
Restore fertility by varicocele surgery?
Studies about the influence of surgical treatment of varicoceles on fertility
Dutch scientists have examined 10 studies on whether surgical treatment of varicocele can increase chances of pregnancy. This type of study delivered the best results when it came to examining benefits and harms of medical treatment (variocele surgery / varicocele embolization).
A total of around 900 men with varicocele participated in the studies who had previously had no success with pregnancy. The reason for this was unclear for all couples. Most of men, however, had deteriorated semen quality (which can have many different causes! More about that later!).
The studies examined, among other things, the effect of varicocele surgery and no intervention. Others examined the various surgical procedures with one another. Most of the 10 studies examined the surgical setting of the testicular varicose vein (minimally invasive surgery in laparoscopy).
The scientists wanted to know how many women became pregnant after the procedure and how often the procedure had undesirable effects.
Varicocele fertility - the result of the study:
1) About 16 out of 100 women became pregnant whose men were not treated.
2) Approximately 32 out of 100 women became pregnant after their husbands were treated
The group of scientists, however, was very cautious in drawing their conclusions because each study had its own weaknesses. Overall, however, based on these results, it can be assumed that varicocele surgery has improved fertility (at least as far as these study results are concerned). However, this only applies to men who had a visible and palpable varicocele (varicocele grade II + III) together with a bad spermiogram before the procedure.
The results cannot be generalized in individual cases. The chances of pregnancy can either be higher or lower for every man.
Treatment was unsuccessful in men who had a subclinical varicocele (not visible) and a normal spermiogram. It is especially important to start the natural treatment of the varicocele as early as possible so that it can regress.
The treatment of a varicocele can be worthwhile in men with higher-grade testicular varicoceles, whereas subclinical and low-grade varicoceles (grade 0 + I) cannot be promised.
Regardless of this, there are a number of other influencing factors that can have a positive and negative effect on male fertility or sperm quality.
Habits / behavior patterns that negatively impact fertility
“Is it me, is it him?” – Is one of the most common questions from couples who want to have children. There can even be an argument because men or women reproach each other for certain lifestyle habits that one has heard or read about that have a negative impact on fertility.
To name just a few – habits that negatively impact fertility:
- Daily cigarette smoking
- Regular alcohol consumption
- Regular medication
- Body contact with toxic chemicals
- Nutrition with mostly processed foods and fast food (these often contain many chemical additives)
- Too little physical activity / sports with varicocele
- Additional psychological stress due to the unfulfilled desire to have children
- Testicle overheating due to modern clothing style
- An untreated varicocele that is permanently swollen and overheats the testicles.
Men and women should therefore reflect attentively and empathize with self-criticism as to whether they have certain negative behavior patterns or unhealthy habits and, if you make the relevant findings, do not shy away from the path to the urologist. In order to fulfill the children’s wish, it is essential to change the lifestyle in the direction of “HEALTHY”.
Men with varicoceles can do this to improve their fertility!
Improve fertility? It´s possible! - Here are some suggestions
In order to positively influence fertility, men can:
- temporarily / better altogether – give up smoking cigarettes
- temporarily / completely avoid alcohol consumption (especially excessive)
- Wear thin clothes for cooling varicocele that allow the air to circulate well and prevent heat build-up in your pants + watch nighttime cooling
- Check medication intake, discuss with doctor and, if possible, stop taking
- overall, eat a healthy and balanced diet, especially eat lots of fruits and vegetables (if possible in organic quality = less pesitide)
- Include superfoods that are rich in antioxidants
- exercise regularly (swimming, running, etc.)
- reduce everyday stress as much as possible
- Avoid physical contact with toxic chemicals
For more tips on improving fertility, see Chapter 8: Varicocele fertility in the guide for varicocele treatment with or without surgery.
Varicocele: Improve fertility with food supplements
Dietary supplements help to increase fertility. There are dietary supplements made from natural herbal ingredients that are specially formulated to help the body produce more sperm. For example, researchers found that men who consumed 5 mg of folic acid (from the vitamin B group) and 6 mg of zinc sulfate daily for 26 weeks showed a 75 percent increase in their sperm count. These two substances also contribute significantly to the formation of DNA. In addition, the following nutritional supplements to improve fertility have been scientifically proven to be very valuable.
Duration of use and dosage
The dosage of the dietary supplements can be found on the back of the product. The doses given there generally correspond to the results on efficacy from studies with the preparation. To be on the safe side, especially regarding the interaction with other medications and possible side effects, please consult your doctor or alternative practitioner. If side effects or allergic reactions occur when taking the food supplements, further use should be avoided.
Food supplements to improve fertility:
The maca plant (Lepidium meyenii), a medicinal plant from the Andes, is said to promote fertility and libido and improve sperm quality. You can buy them as tablets or powder. In a Peruvian study, the amount and mobility of sperm increased in men who had taken between 1.5 and 3 grams of maca daily as a tablet for four months. Therefore maca should be taken daily for at least 4 months. It is best to add a teaspoon of maca to the smoothie / vegetable juice.
- improves general pleasure and performance
- increases the level of testosterone in the body
- improves male potency
- ensures better orgasms
- improves sperm motility
- increases the sperm volume
- increases the number of sperm
- improves fertility
- acts as a natural aphrodisiac
- increases performance in sports
- improves digestion
- increases libido
Folic acid + selenium + vitamin B6 & 12 + piperine
Vitamin B6 contributes to normal energy metabolism. Vitamin B12 helps protect cells from oxidative stress and helps reduce tiredness and fatigue.
Folic acid contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system and normal blood formation. A deficiency in sperm seems to increase the susceptibility to malformations.
Selenium helps protect the cells from oxidative stress and contributes to normal sperm formation. Selenium improve sperm motility and function.
Piperine is an extract from black pepper.
Attention: The intake of arginine leads to an enlargement of the vessels and improves the blood circulation. However, the swelling of the varicocele can increase due to the intake of arginine and can thus increase the feeling of heaviness! Therefore we recommend to take arginine only before going to sleep and stay with 1-2 capsules (1-2g) below the recommended daily dose of 5g.
However, experience from other people affected has shown that arginine has had a positive effect on pulling / pinching / pain in the scrotum. Suggestion: Try different amounts (max 5g / day!) At different times of the day and check what is helping you.
Zinc is a valuable mineral and contributes to:
- Preservation of normal bones, hair, skin and eyesight
- Maintaining a normal hormonal balance
- normal functioning of the immune system
- normal acid-base metabolism and carbohydrate metabolism
- a normal cognitive function
- a normal metabolism of macronutrients, fatty acid metabolism, vitamin A metabolism
- normal protein synthesis, DNA synthesis, fertility and normal reproduction
- Protection of cells from oxidative stress
- Cell division
Vitamin C is a valuable vitamin and contributes to:
- Protect the genetic material of the spermatozoa
- can double the number of sperm when taking 200mg daily
- a normal function of the immune and nervous system
- Protection of cells from oxidative stress
- Reduction of tiredness and fatigue
- normal collagen formation for normal bones, cartilage, blood vessels, skin, gums and teeth
- a normal energy metabolism
- normal mental function
- Maintain normal bones
- increases iron absorption
What do you think, what factors affect fertility the most? Varicocele, genetics or lifestyle?
Leave your opinion in the comment column below!
Studies and sources:
- Kroese AC, de Lange NM, Collins J, Evers JL. Surgery or embolization for varicoceles in subfertile men. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2012; (10): CD000479.
- Matalliotakis I, et al, Int Fertil Women Med 2000: 45(3): 236-40; ebenso: Costa M et al. Italian Study Group on Carnitine and Male infertility
Andrologia 1994 May-Jun; 26(3): 155-9 und auch A. Lenzi, et al, Reproductive endocrinology 7: 292-300, 2003
- Schachter A, Goldman JA, Zukerman Z.
Treatment of oligospermia with the amino acid arginine. J Urol 1973;110:311-313
- G. Papp et al., Importance of arginine content and arginase activity in fertility, Andrologie 1979 Jan;11(1):37-41
- Scibona M, Meschini P, Capparelli S, et al. Larginine and male infertility. Minerva Urol
- Lenzi A, Lombardo F, Gandini L, et al.; Glutathione therapy for male infertility. Arch Androl 1992;29:65-68. und ebenso später Lenzi A, Picardo M, Gandini L, et al. Glutathione treatment of dyspermia: effect on the lipoperoxidation process. Hum Reprod 1994;9:2044-2050. Eine Studie an 69 Männern wurde bei Irvine vorgestellt und brachte eine signifikante Steigerung der Fruchtbarkeit bei infertilen Männern: Irvine DS. Glutathione as a treatment for male infertility. Rev Reprod 1996;1:6-12.
- Fraga CG, Motchnik PA, Shigenaga MK, et al. Ascorbic acid protects against endogenous oxidative DNA damage in human sperm. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1991;88:11003-11006 / ebenso: Dawson EB, Harris WA, Teter MC, Powell LC. Effect of ascorbic acid supplementation on the sperm quality of smokers. Fertil Steril 1992;58:1034-1039 / ebenso: Dawson EB, Harris WA, Rankin WE, et al. Effect of ascorbic acid on male fertility. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1987;498:312-32
- Urology 2006 Dec;68(6):1345-9. Vitamin D receptor found in human sperm. Corbett ST, Hill O, Nangia AK und Fertility Society of Australia conference in Brisbane – paper presented by D. Clark – research was part of a doctoral study by University of Sydney student Laura Thomson
- Suleiman SA, Ali ME, Zaki ZM, et al. Lipid peroxidation and human sperm motility: protective role of vitamin E. J Androl 1996:17:530-537; und hier: Kessopoulou E, Powers HJ, Sharma KK, et al. A double-blind randomized placebo cross-over controlled trial using the antioxidant vitamin E to treat reactive oxygen species associated with male infertility. Fertil Steril 1995;64:825-831 bzw. ähnliche Ergebnisse bei Vezina D, Mauffette F, Roberts KD, Bleau G. Selenium-vitamin E supplementation in infertile men. Effects on semen parameters and micronutrient levels and distribution. Biol Trace Elem Res 1996;53:65-83
- vor allem: Netter A, Hartoma R, Nahoul K. Effect of zinc administration on plasma testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and sperm count. ArchAndrol 1981;7:69-73; und auch Tikkiwal M, Ajmera RL, Mathur NK. Effect of zinc administration on seminal zinc and fertility of oligospermic males. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 1987;31:30-34
- Lewin A, Lavon H. The effect of coenzyme Q-10 on sperm motility and function. Mol Aspects Med 1997;18 S213-S219
- F. De Quelen et al., “n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the maternal diet modify the postnatal development of nervous regulation of intesteal permeability in piglets”, The Journal of Physiology, publihed ahead of print
- Elena Hyppönen et al., “Avoidance of vitamin D deficiency in the United Kingdom: the case for a unified approach in National policy”, British Journal of Nutrition
- Varicocele fertility improvement through natural treatment (ebook).