A varicocele is a varicose vein of the testicle and scrotum that may cause pain, testicular atrophy (shrinkage) or fertility problems. Veins contain one-way valves that work to allow blood to flow from the testicles and scrotum back to the heart. When these valves fail, the blood pools and enlarges the veins around the testicle in the scrotum to cause a varicocele.
Approximately 10 percent of all men have varicoceles. Among infertile couples, the incidence of varicoceles increases to 30 percent. The highest occurrence is in men aged 15-35. As many as 70-80,000 men in America may undergo surgical correction of a varicocele annually.