Azoospermia is a sexual health condition that affects men in which affected men ejaculate semen that totally lack sperms. The condition affects a considerable number of men is usually cited as one of the major causes of male infertility. It mostly occurs in 5% of infertile men who find it hard to impregnate their women even after engaging in unprotected sex for long.
Azoospermia often occurs when there is a blockage in the flow of sperm meaning that sperm can’t leave the body referred to as ‘obstructive cause’. The other cause for Azoospermia could be due to a problem with the production of sperm which is termed as a ‘non-obstructive cause’.
What is Obstructive Azoospermia?
- Genetic conditions
Usually come as result of genetic conditions occurring during birth and there is absence of the vas deferens. This may distort transportation of the sperms.
- When there is infection
When the male reproductive system is infected especially the testicles or the prostate then male fertility may be affected as well.
Azoospermia may be caused by trauma i.e. previous injury or surgery in the spine, pelvis, lower abdomen or damage to the male sex organs thus affecting the male reproductive system. An example of surgery causing Azoospermia is when surgery is performed to treat inguinal hernia. Suffering trauma occasioned by injury on the groin may also in one way or another affect sperm production or cause obstruction to the flow of sperm.
- A vericocele
This a condition that occurs in the scrotum in which the blood vessels there become dilated and enlarged
What is Non-Obstructive Azoospermia?
- Caused by Medicines
Some medicines like steroids, antibiotics, and other forms of medication used in the treatment of inflammation or cancer can also affect male fertility.
People who smoke and drink alcohol heavily or abuse illegal drugs may also experience problems with their sperm production.
- Due to genetic conditions
There are certain genetic conditions such as Klinefelter syndrome and Kallmann syndrome that often affect the optimum development of the reproductive organs.
- Problems with the hormones
This can be caused by abnormality in the testicles thus affecting production of the sperm there.
Often used in cancer treatment may also affect the production of sperm in the testicles.
- Retrograde ejaculation
Retrograde ejaculation is a condition in which semen travels into the bladder instead of leaving the body and is often brought about by a problem in upper part of the bladder. It can come as result of the affected person having suffered spinal cord injury, suffered from diabetes or as a result of medicines.
- Other causes of non-obstructive Azoospermia
There are some pesticides that have been found to cause the condition. Undescended testicles in some children and heavy metals can also cause Azoospermia.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Azoospermia?
- When a man cannot impregnate his wife.
- When a man experiences increased body fat, breast tissue, and body hair.
- A clear, whitish or waterish discharge coming from the male cock.
- When there is inflammation on the scrotum that feels like that of vericocele.
- Feeling stressed about the fact that you can’t have child.
- When the testicles feel soft and are small.
- Enlarged and twisted veins that are clearly visible on the scrotum.
How Azoospermia can be Diagnosed?
When you visit any health institution to be diagnosed for Azoospermia you will be asked some questions about your health and the medicines that you take. The physician may also ask you about the duration you have been trying to father a child without success.
Other questions such as the frequency of your sexual activities or if you are having problems with your sexual desires and functions may also be asked. You will also be asked about your general lifestyle if you smoke or take alcohol.
Below are some of the processes you may be taken through during diagnosis of Azoospermia:
- A Biopsy: This is procedure in which a sample may be taken from your testicle by way of a needle or via a small incision on the scrotum. The sample will then be taken to the lab for further analysis to determine if the testicles capable of producing sperm.
- Physical examination: In physical exam you may be checked to find if there are any signs of imbalances in your hormones. Such signs may be an increase in body fat, breast tissue, body hair. The size and shape of the testicles will also be checked. A digital rectal exam may also be conducted on you to check on the health of the prostate and other parts of the reproductive system as well.
- Genetic tests: This may be done to try and find any abnormal genes as it has been established that such genes usually cause problems with sperm production, transportation and also the forming of the reproductive organs.
Treatment for Azoospermia
Treatment for Azoospermia will depend on the cause. Below are the possible treatment options for the condition:
- Use of Medicine – This is often administered to treat infection in the reproductive system. In the case of hormonal imbalance hormones may be given.
- Percutaneous embolization – This is a procedure used to treat a vericocele.
- Sperm Extraction – This procedure involves removing the sperms from the testicles or the epididymis when there is an obstruction. The sperm taken here can later be used to fertilize the egg of the woman.
- Surgery – This may be conducted to eliminate vericocele or repair the vas deferens that is blocked.