The pathophysiology of varicocele-associated male infertility
- Cite this article as:
- Schoor, R.A., Elhanbly, S.M. & Niederberger, C.S. Curr Urol Rep (2001) 2: 432. doi:10.1007/s11934-001-0035-7
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Varicocele is the most commonly identifiable, surgically correctable lesion associated with male-factor infertility. Surgical correction of a varicocele, whether unilateral or bilateral, results in improvement not only in semen parameters but also in spontaneous and assisted pregnancy rates. Varicoceles seem to induce a number of changes in the testicular microenvironment. These alterations in temperature, hemodynamics, and reactive oxidative species and antioxidant concentrations have been demon-strated to produce deleterious effects on spermatogenesis. However, despite current knowledge in the patho-physiology of varicocele-associated male infertility, the exact mechanism—or mechanisms—by which varicoceles impair fertility remains elusive. This review examines scientific evidence regarding the pathophysiology of varicocele-associated male infertility.