Article

Current Urology Reports

, Volume 2, Issue 6, pp 432-436

The pathophysiology of varicocele-associated male infertility

  • Richard A. SchoorAffiliated withDepartment of Urology/Andrology, Division of Andrology, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • , Samir M. ElhanblyAffiliated withDepartment of Urology/Andrology, Division of Andrology, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • , Craig S. NiederbergerAffiliated withDepartment of Urology/Andrology, Division of Andrology, University of Illinois at Chicago

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Abstract

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.