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Azoospermia: Can We Have A Baby When Semen Is Without Sperms

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Reading and understanding infertility is often challenging. On one end, mere positive words don’t work and getting a clear picture of the fertility struggle is challenging. The best way out is to address the concerns with utmost clarity while tapping the latest developments in the field.

The case of azoospermia which is semen without sperm is one such concern. Let us address this concern to know more about it.

1% of the male population suffers from Azoospermia. It is a great infertility concern and accounts for 10-15% of all infertile men. Azoospermia is suspected when no pregnancy has occurred after a year of unprotected sex and a semen analysis test reports no sperms.

As we know, the sperm is the smallest cell of the male body, which contains genetic material and contribute to 50% of a baby’s DNA after fertilization with an egg.

Azoospermia can be due to sperm production defects due to hormonal issues or genetic problems.

Story of Mr & Mrs Luthra, a cheerful couple, married for 5 years and eagerly trying for the past 12 months. Picture perfect couple has security of finances, emotional and physical well-being. After the blood work of the couple for diagnosing infertility, azoospermia was detected.

2 semen analysis done six-months apart  found no sperms on both occasions. Is there any hope,  can they have children?

A provoking question and a long silence.

Fortunately, there is hope. Technology has enabled us to conquer such conditions and allowed us to have our own baby – from our own gametes! When a semen analysis is done and sperms are absent in the semen, we call it as azoospermia. Azoospermia can happen as a blockage that affects the tubes that transport sperm, which is called obstructive azoospermia. The blockage may be a result of infection, injury or previous surgery.

There is another form of azoospermia, which happen due to genetic defects, hormone imbalance, or reaction to certain medications that affect sperm production. It is called non-obstructive azoospermia.

Are there any specific symptoms of male infertility?

Inability to conceive is the biggest indication, however, in some cases, the possible symptoms may appear

Difficulties with ejaculation or erection, Low sex drive, Pain and swelling, or a lump in the testicle area, Hormonal issues (i.e. abnormal breast growth, loss of facial or body hair).

Can a single semen analysis report mentioning Azoospermia is a sole diagnosis?

For diagnosing Azoospermia, semen analysis is mandatory. It is a test in which, the semen of a male is assessed for various factors such as sperm concentration, sperm motility and sperm morphology. While a man may be able to produce semen, sperm cells may not be present in it. A single semen analysis report mentioning Azoospermia, however, cannot be the sole diagnosis on which, Azoospermia can be confirmed. The patient is recommended to repeat the semen analysis after a couple of weeks at a standardised laboratory to confirm azoospermia.

Can azoospermia be treated to realise the dream of parenthood?

Yes it can be treated! Being diagnosed with azoospermia does not decrease the chances of conceiving biologically. Many causes of azoospermia are reversible and treatable.

For example: Hormone treatments may be possible if abnormal FSH or testosterone production is the cause of azoospermia. If medication or recreational drug use is causing azoospermia, just eliminating this can help testes to start producing sperm regularly again.

In cases of obstructive azoospermia, treatment often is surgical removal of the obstruction or reconstruction of the obstructed ducts, so sperm can reach the semen. After these treatments many men experience increased sperm counts and are able to become fathers with their own sperm.

If you had previous surgeries like vasectomy then it can probably lead to azoospermia. In these cases, if you’re planning for a pregnancy, then reverse vasectomy need to be performed for restoring the sperm count in the semen.

What are recent developments for treatment of Azoospermia or Zero Sperms?

MICROTESE: This is the latest technique in infertility treatment that focuses targeted removal of sperms from the testicles. While traditional methods have poor success rate in finding sperms once azoospermia is confirmed in semen analysis, couples find hope in MicroTESE.

This is a minor surgical procedure of 3 to 4 hours done under general anaesthesia. Search for precious sperms is done under a high resolution microscope. Sperms found are then used for ICSI-IVF. This process increases IVF success rates in cases of male infertility.

How much time is taken to treat azoospermia?

However, cases of congenital azoospermia are irreversible and cannot be treated effectively where as, all other cases of obstructive as well as non-obstructive azoospermia can be corrected  with surgical and medical treatment respectively. It takes about 2 to 3 weeks’ time for this condition to be diagnosed and treated successfully.

Is azoospermia completely curable?

Hormonal causes and obstructive azoospermia are usually treatable and fertility can potentially be restored. If testicular disorders are the cause, with latest advancement, it still possible to retrieve live sperm to be used in assisted reproductive techniques.

Dealing with infertility with whatsoever reasons, requires a stress free dialogue and transparency with partner as well as treating doctor. Research has established a link of anxiety or stress with sperm abnormality. Stress levels can alter the hormones that regulate sperm production, causing zero sperm count.

4 things you need to know about azoospermia.

1. Azoospermia can be obstructive or non-obstructive.

2. People with azoospermia often have normal sexual function and ejaculation.

3. Azoospermia treatment is dependent on the cause.

4.Good news is that, some of the underlying cause can be treated.


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