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Higher Varicocele Grade Linked to Lower Sperm Density

Testosterone levels higher in grade III varicoceles; BMI inversely proportional to varicocele

FRIDAY, May 28 (HealthDay News) -- In men with varicocele and infertility, the grade of the varicocele is related to semen quality, and grade III varicoceles are associated with higher testosterone levels, according to research published in the May issue of Urology.

Badereddin Mohamad Al-Ali, M.D., of the Medical University of Graz in Austria, and colleagues analyzed data from 716 consecutive patients with left varicocele and infertility. Mean age of subjects was 29.6 years, and they were roughly evenly divided between grades I, II, and III varicocele (30, 39, and 30.3 percent, respectively).

The researchers found that sperm density decreased significantly as varicocele grade increased. Body mass index was significantly lower in men with grade III varicocele (22.2) compared to grade I (24.6) and grade II (24.1). Serum testosterone was higher in grade III varicocele (5.7 nmol/L) than grade I (4.9 nmol/L) or grade II (5.0 nmol/L).

"To our knowledge the current report is the first to describe a direct relationship between the grade of varicocele and deterioration of semen quality. Grade III varicocele was associated with decreased semen quality. Contrary to previous reports, grade III varicocele was associated with higher levels of serum testosterone," the authors conclude. "Our study confirmed the findings of previous reports with regard to the relationship between varicoceles and body mass index."

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