INVITED REVIEW
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 239-245

Summary evidence on the effects of varicocele treatment to improve natural fertility in subfertile men


1 Department of Urology, University of Sao Paulo, Av. Dr. Enéas de Carvalho Aguiar, 255, 7 andar - Sala 710F, Sao Paulo, 05403-000, Brazil
2 ANDROFERT, Center for Male Reproduction, Av. Dr. Heitor Penteado 1464, Campinas, Sao Paulo, 13075-460, Brazil

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Marcello S Cocuzza
Department of Urology, University of Sao Paulo, Av. Dr. Enéas de Carvalho Aguiar, 255, 7 andar - Sala 710F, Sao Paulo, 05403-000
Brazil
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1008-682X.172639

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The objective of this review was to summarize the evidence concerning the benefit of varicocele treatment to improve natural fertility in subfertile males. We also analyzed the effect of varicocele treatment on conventional semen parameters and sperm functional tests. An electronic search to collect the data was performed using the PubMed/MEDLINE databases until July 2015. Data pooled from a variety of study designs indicate that varicocelectomy improves semen parameters in the majority of the treated men with clinical varicocele and abnormal semen parameters regardless of the chosen surgical method. Surgical varicocele repair was beneficial not only for alleviating oxidative stress-associated infertility but also to improve sperm nuclear DNA integrity. However, given the low magnitude of the effect size in sperm DNA integrity, further research is needed to elucidate its clinical significance. Conflicting results on the effect of varicocele treatment on natural fertility seem to be due to heterogeneous study designs and, more importantly, patient selection criteria. When these issues are controlled, current evidence indicates that treatment of subclinical varicocele is not warranted, as it does not seem to improve fertility. On the contrary, fair evidence indicates that varicocele treatment should be offered to infertile patients with palpable varicocele and abnormal semen parameters. This evidence supports the current guidelines issued by the American Urological Association and European Association of Urology, which state that varicocele treatment should be offered to male partners of infertile couples presenting for evaluation with clinical varicocele and semen parameters alterations.


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