Risk factors for progressive deterioration of semen quality in patients with varicocele

Urology. 2012 Jan;79(1):128-32. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2011.08.063. Epub 2011 Nov 4.


Objective: To assess the risk factors for progressive deterioration of semen quality (PDSQ) in adult patients with varicocele.

Methods: A total of 32 men with left varicocele and impaired semen quality (group 1) and 30 age-matched patients with left varicocele and normal semen quality (group 2) were recruited for the present study. All the subjects received conservative treatment, and the parameters for evaluation every 12 months included semen quality, peak retrograde flow (PRF) and spontaneous venous reflux by color Doppler ultrasonography, body mass index, serum concentration of follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, prolactin, testosterone, testicular volume and discrepancy, grade of varicocele, and scrotal temperature.

Results: The mean follow-up time was 63.2 months (range 60-66). The patients in group 1 had a significantly greater PRF, lower testicular volume, greater testicular volume discrepancy, lower testosterone level, higher scrotal temperature, and greater follicle-stimulating hormone level than those in group 2 at first. The semen quality deteriorated in 28 subjects (87.5%) in group 1, but in only 6 patients (20%) in group 2 during follow-up. Furthermore, the 6 subjects with PDSQ in group 2 had greater PRF and scrotal temperature than those without.

Conclusion: The rate of PDSQ was significantly greater in the varicocele patients with an initially abnormal semen quality than in those with initially normal semen quality (87.5% vs 20%). Furthermore, the varicocele patients with initially normal semen quality who had greater PRF and scrotal temperature might have a greater risk of PDSQ.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Disease Progression*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Factors
  • Semen Analysis*
  • Sperm Count / methods
  • Sperm Motility / physiology
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Time Factors
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler
  • Varicocele / diagnostic imaging
  • Varicocele / physiopathology*
  • Varicocele / surgery
  • Young Adult