“If you’re unable to get your partner pregnant after regular unprotected intercourse for more than a year, you might be suffering from some form of a problem associated with the sperms. It could range from mild problems like sperm count mortality to the severest form — the absence of sperms in the semen sample, which can be termed as azoospermia,” said Dr Aswati Nair, fertility consultant, Nova IVF Fertility, New Delhi.
She added that it is a condition that prevents males from having sperms in their semen, and is one of the causes of male infertility. However, azoospermia is a rare incident and happens in around one per cent of men; but it’s the root cause of 10 to 15 percent of infertility cases.
“It can be caused when either the testicles stop producing sperms or the produced sperms cannot come out because of a block in the tract. Sperms are formed in the testicles and the sperms travel through the reproductive tract along with the fluid which is basically secretion of the male glands. They together make semen,” she said.
What causes azoospermia?
It can be caused because of two reasons – obstructive (sperm gets blocked and cannot come out of the body) and non-obstructive (an issue in sperm production).
Obstructive azoospermia is caused due to
*Genetic conditions: An underlying issue with the genes or some organs in the body.
*Infection in the prostrate or testicles, which is also one of the biggest causes of male infertility
*Trauma: A surgery in the spine, pelvis, sex organ, the lower abdomen may damage the reproductive organs. Sometimes trauma of the surgery can also affect the sperm production or cause obstruction in sperm production.
Non-obstructive azoospermia is caused due to
*Taking medicines for cancer may affect fertility. Popping antibiotics and steroids can also be detrimental to male fertility.
*Smoking, drinking alcohol may also cause a problem in sperm production
*Chemotherapy or any other radiation therapy to treat cancer
*Retrograde ejaculation: Under this condition, semen travels into the bladder instead of outside the body
What are the signs and symptoms of azoospermia?
*Inability to make the partner conceive
*Overweight or obesity
*Loss of hair
*Testicles are getting small and cannot be felt
*Low sex drive
How to diagnose azoospermia and its treatment?
The process is similar to any male fertility diagnosis. The medical expert will ask you for your semen analysis, blood test, or brain imaging to scan the pituitary gland. After that, they might ask you a few questions to understand your medical history. Question will be pertaining to your fertility issues, any cases of long-term medication or treatment of any ailments like cancer, either in the form of chemotherapy or radiotherapy, any illness, surgery in your pelvic or reproductive area, any STI and UTI, and exposure to high heat conditions.
“If a person is diagnosed with obstructive azoospermia, the treatment involves reconstructing the tubes or ducts that aren’t allowing the sperm to flow. This can be done through surgery. However, the rate of success of these surgeries is low. The rate of success of any medical treatment towards non-obstructive azoospermia is also very low. But there is still a way to have a biological child with surgically extracted testicular sperms,” she tells indianexpress.com.
It’s always beneficial to eat a well-balanced diet, get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and keep stress in check besides meeting your fertility expert on a regular basis. One should always be careful about the medications they are taking and discuss their impact on fertility with your doctor.