What is Azoospermia (No sperm count): Causes & Treatment
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Dr. Namita Kotia has been practicing infertility treatment at Aastha Fertility Care since 2010, and during this time, she has helped around 2000+ couples become parents through IVF treatment and also other assisted reproductive technology (ART) methods like ICSI, IUI, GIFT, etc. Dr. Namita provides her patients with the best possible care and treatment options.
Azoospermia is a condition in which men’s ejaculation Contains 0% sperm in it, and it is one of the major causes of infertility in men. It is difficult for couples trying hard to conceive a baby but fails due to Infertility issues.
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You first need to be aware that you are not the only person dealing with this. According to Express Healthcare, infertility affects around 10% to 15% of married couples, and nearly 3 million are seeking infertility treatment in India. In addition, a recent report by NCBI on the status of infertility rate in India says that out of all the infertility cases, approximately 40% – 50% of them are due to male factors, owing to reproductive anomalies in the male.
Five percent of infertile men have Azoospermia, an absence of sperm in the ejaculate after orgasm. Azoospermia- an uncommon but severe form of male infertility, affects 1 in 100 of the general population. But, thanks to advanced medical treatments, Azoospermia can be surgically or medically treated or may require assisted reproductive techniques to achieve pregnancy.
What Does “No Sperm Count” Mean?
Azoospermia is the absence of a measurable amount of sperm in a men’s semen. This condition is usually diagnosed when a couple planning for a baby for more than a year faces difficulty conceiving and seeking diagnosis or testing from a fertility expert. It leads to male infertility.
Men who suffer from zero sperm count or Azoospermia usually have normal semen fluids or volumes and may not be able to detect the same unless they get their semen sample tested. A semen analysis is therefore performed to determine the viable, healthy sperm found in a male’s ejaculate and is conducted at the fertility laboratory.
Types of Azoospermia
If we identify the types of Azoospermia based on the reproductive cycle, then it can be divided into three different parts-
- Pre-Testicular Azoospermia
If your partner is diagnosed with pre-testicular Azoospermia, the functioning and the role of testicles are normal. Still, the brain cannot send desired signals to produce healthy sperm. This happens when the endocrine glands in the brain cannot coordinate with the body or guide it for healthy sperm development.
- Testicular Azoospermia
In testicular Azoospermia, the problem is with the testicles. The testes cannot ideally respond to the hormones for healthy sperm development released by the brain. Testicular Azoospermia can also be due to some issues with the cellular development of sperm.
- Post-Testicular Azoospermia
In this condition, the brain sends all the signals to produce healthy sperm, and testicles also follow them and produce normal sperm. Therefore, some other kind of blockage or ejaculation dysfunction prevents it from getting out.
Azoospermia can further be classified in two ways: blockage and no blockage.
What is Obstructive Azoospermia and Non-Obstructive Azoospermia?
It refers to the complete absence of sperm in the semen and is usually due to any blockage in the reproductive tract.
Non-Obstructive Azoospermia is when a measurable number of sperms are not found in the semen due to impaired or abnormal production.
What are the Causes of Azoospermia?
The causes of Azoospermia depend on the type diagnosed in the patient, either due to obstructive or non-obstructive sources.
Obstructive Azoospermia causes include vas deferens and ejaculatory ducts of the epididymis. Some of the problems that result in the blockage are:
- Injury to trauma to the mentioned areas
- Vasectomy– a planned and permanent contraceptive procedure that prevents the flow of sperm.
- Cyst development
- Cystic fibrosis gene mutation.
Causes for Non-Obstructive Azoospermia include:
- Genetic Causes-
– Kallmann Syndrome- An inherited disorder carried on by the X chromosome.
– Y Chromosome Deletion- Missing sections of the genes on the Y Chromosome.
– Klinefelter’s Syndrome- When a male partner carries an extra X Chromosome that heals to XXY, not XY.
- Endocrine Disorders/Hormonal imbalances
- Ejaculation issues
- Some testicular causes include-
– Testicular torsion
– Sertoli cell-only syndrome
– Mumps Orchitis
Is Azoospermia Treatable?
Azoospermia is a curable male infertility problem, and the treatment options are entirely based on the cause and type of the condition.
- If the sperm’s absence is due to production in the testicles, then experts will advise ICSI/IVF treatments.
- If the male infertility issue is due to any blockage, then experts will advise a surgical attempt to remove the blockage source.
- If it is due to lower hormone production, hormone treatments will help cure the issue, including HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), letrozole, clomiphene, and anastrozole.
- If the poor semen production is due to varicocele, then the problem causing veins is tied off with the approved surgical procedures.
How can Azoospermia be Prevented?
If Azoospermia is due to a genetic condition, then there is no known way to know the cause and prevention measures. But, if Azoospermia is due to an external factor, then patients will get the benefits from-
- Avoiding torsion activities that can injure the reproductive organs,
- Avoid exposure of testes too hot temperatures
- Avoid testes exposure to radiation,
- Explore the benefits and risks of medication that can harm overall sperm production.
- Eat healthy and fresh foods to increase sperm count.
Azoospermia is common among infertile men and is characterized by a complete absence of sperm in ejaculation. Each cause of Azoospermia has a different diagnosis and treatment, including reversing certain conditions that worsen the condition.
Suppose you also have difficulty conceiving after trying for a long time. In that case, you should consult your healthcare team to find out if you are suffering from this condition and what treatment options are available.