An update on the role of medical treatment including antioxidant therapy in varicocele

Asian J Androl. 2016 Mar-Apr;18(2):222-8. doi: 10.4103/1008-682X.171657.


Varicocele-associated male infertility has classically been managed using surgery or assisted reproductive techniques. With increasing evidence of oxidative stress as a pathophysiological factor in varicocele-associated infertility, medical therapy especially antioxidants might become a treatment option with lower risks. We reviewed the existing literature on the role of various medical agents in the management of male infertility attributed to varicoceles. Medical therapy is typically evaluated in three different situations such as (a) comparison of two drugs or one drug with placebo, (b) comparison of drugs versus surgery, and (c) comparison of drugs as adjuvant therapy with surgery versus drug therapy alone. Due to heterogeneity of data and lack of well-conducted studies, there is insufficient data to recommend routine use of medical therapy for men with varicocele-associated infertility and surgery remains the treatment of choice. Pregnancy and live birth rates are usually not reported in most studies and mere improvement in sperm parameters or antioxidant capacity is insufficient to support its routine use. Antioxidant therapy is a potential option due to its theoretical benefit, data from preclinical studies, and lack of major side effects. Adjuvant therapy with antioxidants after surgical repair of varicocele may improve the outcome and is a potential area for further research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / drug therapy
  • Infertility, Male / etiology
  • Male
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Varicocele / complications
  • Varicocele / drug therapy*
  • Varicocele / surgery


  • Antioxidants