Azoospermia is a condition that involves absence of sperm in the seminal fluid. The condition causes infertility in males and requires male infertility treatments for those who wish to reproduce with their partner. The most common cause of azoospermia is associated with either sperm production or any obstruction in sperm delivery. In many cases, men with azoospermia do not show any symptoms or indications, unless their partner experiences difficulty in getting pregnant.
The causes of azoospermia can be of two types: non-obstructive azoospermia and obstructive azoospermia.
The non-obstructive azoospermia occurs due to abnormal sperm production. The major causes of this condition include hormonal problems, testicular failure, and varicocele. Improper functioning of the pituitary hormone can also severely reduce or stop sperm production. Testicles are the part of the male genitalia that produce an adequate number of mature sperm. Any impairment in the testicles due to genetic abnormalities or other reasons also hampers mature sperm production. Sometimes a condition called a varicocele, dilation of the veins of the scrotum, may also disrupt sperm production. Dilation of the veins causes pooling of extra blood to the scrotum and has a negative impact on sperm production.
Obstructive azoospermia is the result of obstruction or blockage in the sperm-carrying duct called vas deferens. This prevents sperm from being delivered into the ejaculate. The obstruction of the duct may be a result of prior surgery involving the scrotum, testicle or an inguinal hernia, or history of infections such as gonorrhea. Sometimes, a genetic abnormality such as absence of the duct from birth is the cause of azoospermia.
The diagnosis of azoospermia includes a complete medical history, physical examination, tests of selected hormones and male fertility tests include sperm analysis. The medical history and physical examination of the patient evaluates any childhood illnesses or disorders or any family history of reproductive problems, presence of dilated veins or varicoceles and secondary sex characteristics. Hormonal testing includes measurements of testosterone and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in the blood serum to evaluate for any hormonal imbalance. Other tests such as transrectal ultrasound, urinalysis, or testicular biopsy can also be used to diagnosis the condition.
Treatment of the azoospermia depends on the cause of the condition. In obstructive azoospermia, the blockage can be corrected through a surgery. Treatment of non-obstructive azoospermia represents a greater challenge. Sometime hormonal medications can be prescribed to regulate the sperm producing hormones. Otherwise fathering a child can be achieved through microsurgical testicular sperm extraction (TESE) procedure. TESE procedure involves removal of testicular tissue for the extraction of sperm to fertilize an egg to be used for in vitro fertilization. Following a proper diet, healthy lifestyle and regular exercising also can be helpful to improve male fertility.