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No, herbs won’t treat condition which threatens male fertility, surgery is needed

A message posted on Facebook in Nigeria claims that the medical condition varicocele is “a significant cause of reduced fertility in many young men”, but can be treated with herbs.

It describes the condition: “Varicocele is the tortuous dilation of the veins supposed to carry deoxygenated blood and waste products from the testes back to the heart. Hence these waste products remain and damage the sperm formed in the testes.”

This is fairly accurate. Varicocele happens when the veins transporting oxygen-depleted blood from the testicles become enlarged because of poor circulation of blood out of the scrotum.

It can lead to low sperm production and poorly developed testicles and can cause infertility.

The post goes on to describe how men can test if they have varicocele: “So if you are a man, kindly touch your scrotum and see if you feel something that feels like a ‘bag of worm’, as it is called.”

The post indirectly suggests seeing a doctor: “All the Doctor needs to do is ligate those veins and provide the testes with an opportunity to breathe fresh air and produce better sperm cells.” But it ends with the claim that “I have herbs for the treatment too”. 

How should varicocele be treated? We checked.


Treatable with surgery only

Dr Ademola Popoola, a consultant urologist and senior lecturer at the University of Ilorin in western Nigeria, said no herbs or medication could treat varicocele. It could only be treated with surgery.

“The medical treatment for varicocele is a surgical procedure called varicocelectomy, and it could reoccur after the surgery, this could happen if some veins were missed during the procedure,” he said.

Popoola said: “It may be diagnosed when a patient presents with complaints such as infertility or pain in the scrotum, which may point the physicians to examine him looking for varicocele.”

The condition could also be discovered during a clinical examination for other problems, according to the urologist. But varicocele was a major cause of male infertility and might also be a pointer to abdominal problems such as kidney tumours.

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