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How are Varicoceles Diagnosed?

Varicoceles are found through self-exam of the scrotum or during a routine doctor’s exam. They’ve been described as a “bag of worms” because of how they look and feel.

Urologists often check for varicoceles with the patient standing. You may be asked to take a deep breath, hold it, and bear down while your urologist feels the scrotum above the testicle. This technique is known as the “Valsalva maneuver.” It lets your urologist find any enlarged veins.

Your urologist may order a scrotal ultrasound test. Ultrasound uses sound waves to make a picture of what’s inside your body. Signs of varicoceles on ultrasound are veins that are wider than 3 millimeters with blood flowing the wrong way during the Valsalva maneuver. The ultrasound can also show the size of the testicles. These are useful in deciding how to treat teenagers. An ultrasound isn’t needed if no problems are felt during the physical exam.