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Hum Reprod Update. 2001 Jan-Feb;7(1):59-64.

Effects of varicocele on male fertility.

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Department of Urology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.


Varicoceles are vascular lesions of the pampiniform plexus and are the most common identifiable abnormality found in men being evaluated for infertility. Despite the long history associated with varicoceles, there remains much controversy regarding their diagnosis and management. The purpose of this manuscript is to address three of the most pressing controversies: (i) the association of varicoceles with male infertility, (ii) whether varicoceles exert a progressive deleterious effect and (iii) the relationship of varicocele size and outcome following varicocele repair. The current literature is reviewed in an effort to answer these questions. Based upon this analysis, conclusions can be drawn regarding the best management of varicoceles in subfertile men, adolescents, young fertile men and men with subclinical varicoceles. Although there remain many controversies due to a paucity of data, there appears to be a significant difference between adults and adolescents with respect to a progressive deterioration of semen parameters and it is clear that subclinical varicoceles do not play a major role in male infertility.

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