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Can I Take Viagra® If I Have Varicocele?

Angela Sheddan

Reviewed by Angela Sheddan, FNP

Written by Nicholas Gibson

Published 03/09/2023

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is one of the most common sexual performance issues in men, with an estimated 30 million adult men affected in the United States alone.

If you have erectile dysfunction, you might find it more difficult to get or maintain an erection that is firm enough for sexual activity. In some cases, you may not be able to develop an erection on a consistent basis, or get an erection at all.

ED can be frustrating to deal with, but the good news is that effective, evidence-based treatment options are available to help you get and maintain healthy erections more easily. 

These include medications like sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra®, which improves blood flow to your penis.

Viagra and similar medications are safe and effective for most healthy men, but they may not be suitable for you if you have a condition that affects your heart health or the blood flow to your penis, testicles and surrounding area.

One common question about Viagra is whether or not it’s safe to use this medication if you have varicocele — swelling of the veins inside your scrotum.

Can you use Viagra if you have varicocele? At the moment, there’s no high-quality evidence that suggests that Viagra is dangerous if you have varicocele. However, as always, this is something you’ll want to discuss with your healthcare provider before starting treatment for ED.

Below, we’ve explained what varicocele is, as well as whether or not it’s linked to sexual function issues such as erectile dysfunction.

We’ve also discussed what you should know if you have varicocele and erectile dysfunction and want to use medication like Viagra to improve your sexual performance

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Varicocele is swelling that affects the veins inside your scrotum — the sac of skin located below your penis that contains your testicles and spermatic cord. A varicocele can develop when the valves inside these veins stop blood from flowing normally.

This reduction in blood flow can cause blood to pool up inside the vein, resulting in swelling and enlargement. The process is similar to that of varicose veins, which usually develop on the legs and feet.

Varicoceles can affect men of all ages. However, they’re most common in teenagers and men in their early to mid 20s. 

It’s far from uncommon to develop a varicocele. In fact, research suggests that around 15 to 20 percent of men will have a varicocele at some point in life.

Not all men experience noticeable symptoms from varicocele, especially because these partially blocked, enlarged veins may form over time as the rate of blood flow in your scrotum gradually slows.. However, some men notice a dull pain or discomfort in their scrotum, swelling and/or lumps or visible enlargement of their dilated veins. 

Other men experience more significant issues from varicocele, including testicular atrophy (loss of size in one or both testicles), issues with fertility and reduced sperm count. 

If you’re concerned that you may have a varicocele, it’s important to let your healthcare provider know. They can perform a physical exam and let you know if you have healthy veins or signs of varicocele that may affect your physical comfort, health and/or fertility.

Getting an erection can seem like a simple process at first, but it really depends on a number of important events, from sexual stimulation to blood flow.

When you feel interested in sexual intercourse, blood starts to flow to the erectile tissue located inside your penis, causing it to become larger and firmer. A fibrous membrane referred to as the tunica albuginea traps this blood inside your penis, allowing you to stay hard during sex.

Erectile dysfunction can happen when one or several parts of this process are interrupted or fail to function properly. 

For example, you may develop erectile dysfunction if you have a reduced sex drive that causes you to feel less interested in sex, or if you have a physical health condition that reduces the flow of blood through the blood vessels that supply your penis. 

Common physical causes of erectile dysfunction include:

  • Diseases and conditions that affect blood flow, such as heart disease, atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure

  • Conditions that affect nerve function, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), injuries to your penis and the surrounding area and surgical complications

  • Medications that affect blood flow, sex drive or sexual function, such as tranquilizers, antiandrogens, antidepressants, ulcer medications and appetite suppressants

  • Unhealthy habits, such as smoking tobacco, using illicit drugs, eating a poor diet and being physically inactive

Certain mental health conditions, such as depression, sexual performance anxiety and chronic stress, may also play a role in the development of erectile dysfunction.

Currently, varicocele isn’t viewed as a common cause of erectile dysfunction. However, a small amount of research suggests that men with varicocele may have an elevated risk of developing ED.

At the moment, it’s unclear if erectile dysfunction in this case is caused by the varicocele itself, or if varicocele and erectile dysfunction share certain risk factors.

Varicocele often gets better with changes to your habits, such as wearing snug underwear or a jock strap to reduce any pain or discomfort. But in some cases, you may need to undergo surgery or a varicocele embolization to treat a blocked, dilated vein in your scrotum. 

Surgery for a varicocele is called varicocelectomy. This procedure involves making a small cut in your lower abdomen, then redirecting blood flow from the abnormal veins into healthy veins that supply your testicles.

Most of the time, you’ll be able to leave the hospital on the same day your surgery is performed, meaning you can recover at home. 

Right now, there isn’t any research on the link between varicocele surgery and erectile function in men. Because of this, we can’t say with any confidence that varicocele surgery stops erectile dysfunction from occurring or makes it easier to get or maintain an erection.

However, if you previously had pain or discomfort due to a varicocele, undergoing surgery may make it easier for you to have sex. 

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Sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, is a prescription medication that’s often used to treat erectile dysfunction. It belongs to a class of drugs called PDE5 inhibitors and works by increasing blood flow to the erectile tissue inside your penis

Your healthcare provider might suggest taking Viagra or a similar type of ED medication if you often find it difficult to get or maintain an erection.

Viagra is safe and effective for most men. However, it may not be safe for you to use Viagra or similar medication if you have:

  • Recently had a heart attack, stroke or life-threatening heart arrhythmia

  • Hypotension (low blood pressure) or hypertension (high blood pressure)

  • Heart failure, coronary artery disease or other heart-related issues

  • Risk factors for non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION)

Some medications, such as nitrates and alpha blockers, can interact with Viagra and other ED medications. To keep yourself safe, make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any other medications you currently use or have recently used before taking Viagra.

Currently, the FDA does not warn against taking Viagra or similar medications for erectile dysfunction if you have varicocele.

Since Viagra is a prescription medication, you’ll need to meet with your healthcare provider before you can use it. They’ll likely ask you about any medical conditions or other issues you have before prescribing this medication. 

Make sure to let them know that you have a varicocele. They’ll be able to inform you about any risks you should be aware of before using Viagra, as well as what you need to know to use this medication safely.

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In addition to Viagra, several other FDA-approved medications are available to increase blood flow to your penis and make getting and maintaining an erection easier.

These include other oral medications for ED, such as tadalafil (the active ingredient in Cialis®), vardenafil (Levitra®) and avanafil (Stendra®). 

We offer several of these medications as part of our range of ED treatments. To get these treatments, you’ll first need an online consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. 

While medication usually has the biggest impact on erectile function and sexual performance in men with ED, other things, such as making changes to your habits and daily life, can also make it easier to get and stay hard during sex.

For example, your healthcare provider may suggest limiting your alcohol consumption, keeping yourself physically active, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy body weight and giving up smoking to improve your cardiovascular health and erections.

If your erectile dysfunction is caused by stress, depression or anxiety, seeing a therapist in your area or taking part in online talk therapy may also help. 

Our guide to natural methods for maintaining an erection goes into greater detail about changes that you can make to your habits and lifestyle for healthier erections and better sex.

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Varicoceles are a common problem. For most men, they’re a harmless annoyance that leads to mild discomfort. However, for some, they could cause or contribute to testicular atrophy, fertility issues and severe pain, including during sex.

While the link between varicoceles and erectile dysfunction isn’t totally clear, if you have a varicocele that’s making sex uncomfortable, it’s best to let your healthcare provider know. 

They may recommend undergoing surgery, having a varicocele embolization, using medication or making changes to your habits to reduce pain and discomfort.

If you have erectile dysfunction or another form of sexual dysfunction and think it may be linked to a varicocele, your healthcare provider may suggest using Viagra or similar medication.

Interested in trying ED medication? You can learn more about your options by taking part in an online consultation for erectile dysfunction and, if appropriate, accessing medication. 

You can also find out more about how Viagra and similar medications work in our detailed guide to the most common treatments for ED.

8 Sources

  1. Definition & Facts for Erectile Dysfunction. (2017, July). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/definition-facts
  2. Varicocele. (2021, July 26). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001284.htm
  3. Leslie, S., Sajjad, H. & Siref, L.E. (2022, November 28). Varicocele. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448113/
  4. Panchatsharam, P.K., Durland, J. & Zito, P.M. (2022, May 8). Physiology, Erection. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513278/
  5. Symptoms & Causes of Erectile Dysfunction. (2017, July). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes
  6. Keller, J.J., Chen, Y.K. & Lin, H.C. (2012). Varicocele is associated with erectile dysfunction: a population-based case-control study. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 9 (7), 1745-1752. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22524472/
  7. VIAGRA- sildenafil citrate tablet, film coated. (2017, August). Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/spl/data/40578e70-350a-4940-9630-55d90989c146/40578e70-350a-4940-9630-55d90989c146.xml
  8. Symptoms and Causes of Erectile Dysfunction. (2017, July). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Angela Sheddan, FNP

Dr. Angela Sheddan has been a Family Nurse Practitioner since 2005, practicing in community, urgent and retail health capacities. She has also worked in an operational capacity as an educator for clinical operations for retail clinics. 

She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, her master’s from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, and her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. You can find Angela on LinkedIn for more information.


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