20 June 2011
Testosterone drop caused by varicoceles?
by George Atkinson
Varicoceles, masses of enlarged and dilated veins in the testicles, may be causing low testosterone levels in affected men, say researchers in the journal BJU International. Varicoceles are also a recognized cause of male infertility and the study notes that a large number (15 percent) of men suffer from them. Varicoceles usually first appear during or shortly after puberty
"Varicoceles are a much more serious problem than previously thought. Besides causing low energy, decreased muscle strength and sexual problems, [low testosterone] is a major risk factor for osteoporosis and can also cause changes in cognitive and psychological function, in particular, depression," said Weill Cornell Medical College researcher Dr. Marc Goldstein, who led the study.
Until now, the common wisdom regarding varicoceles has been to leave them alone unless they are causing pain or infertility. But Goldstein says that teenagers and men with serious varicoceles be referred to a male reproductive urologist experienced in microsurgical varicocelectomy. "It is much easier to prevent future fertility problems and low testosterone than wait until the damage has already occurred."
Adult men with varicoceles and low testosterone should also consider microsurgery sooner rather than later, says Goldstein. "The microsurgery techniques available today have a very low complication and failure rate compared with the more invasive techniques used in the past. Microsurgery is a good choice for men with low testosterone as there are no oral medications to increase testosterone. And although testosterone shots, pellets and gels are effective, they are not tolerable or appropriate for many patients."
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Source: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center