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Does varicocele surgery really help?

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1melissa1 Posted: 05-26-2011 1:54 PM

My husband has a very low sperm count and motility, and we just saw his urologist who found a large varicocele. The doctor told us that 2/3 of men that get the surgery will improve their sperm count.

However, I came home and did some research and saw on a bunch of websites like WebMD that there is actually no evidence that the surgery improves fertility rates. However, we just need enough sperm for IUI, so maybe these studies are not taking that sort of thing into account and are only looking at people who got pregnant naturally...? 

Can anyone share their personal experiences with the surgery and if it was worth it to get it? Specifically, how much did sperm counts improve (and of course--did you get pregnant?)




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coops replied on 05-26-2011 8:03 PM

I would say sometimes. There's no way of knowing in advance. My bf had a varicocele repair but it was an embolization, not surgery. His issue wasn't low count, it was low motility and morphology plus high DNA fragmentation. We had everything rechecked 3 months and then 6 months after the procedure. His count (still normal), motility and morphology hadn't changed much so it didn't seem to make a difference in that sense. But his DNA fragmentation had improved by 10%, putting him within normal range (still borderline but much better). We don't know if that was from the varicocele repair, from the vitamins/minerals he was taking or a coincidence.

I think it's worth a try. It likely won't hurt and it may help. I would want to do anything I could and even if it didn't work at least we'd have no regrets about not trying.

P.S. I'm pregnant now but we did IVF. There are issues on my side that were likely the main culprit for our infertility.

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pinkpeanut replied on 05-27-2011 8:35 PM

My DH just had varicocele surgery in April.  We decided to do it for reasons that Coops mentioned.  We didn't want to regret it if there was something we could do.  That being said the first few weeks were uncomfortable for him.  He had tugging and pulling in the testicle that was worked on.  Evidently that is a common thing because the blood is being rerouted.  He is feeling much better and has no regrets. Fingers Crossed it improves count and motility for him.   Good luck to you!

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KShaw replied on 06-27-2011 3:33 PM

Hi Ladies - I know I'm a month behind on this thread, but my husband's SA showed such a low count that the sperm couldn't be analyzed, and the sperm that were found had very low motility.  Last week we found out that he has a varicocele.  We are waiting to see a urologist. 

I am curious if there are any updates from any of you about success?

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sprinkles replied on 06-28-2011 6:48 PM

Hi all,

I've wondering about this too.  

My DH also has a varicocele (grade 2) and the urologist mentioned traditional surgery as a option.  He didn't say that it was the absolute necessary thing to do in order to fix the varicocele, as he says there is only a 25% - 75% of it improving sperm count, quality, etc. In the meantime he suggested Fertility Blend for Men.

I'm not sure what the success rates are for the other types of varicocele procedures, such as embolization and micro-surgery, but I'm interested in hearing about other people's success/experiences with any type of varicocele procedure.

We're holding off on surgery at the moment because the odds of improvement don't sound too great.  Plus it's not covered by our insurance.  I'm having DH do acupuncture and herbs for now; I'll update you if that helps at all.  If it doesn't help, then we'll really think about surgery...

Good luck to everyone.


TTC#1 since September 2010

Me: 32  DH: 34

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