Azoospermia is the medical definition used to describe either the complete absence of, or very low count of sperm in your semen and there are two main categories into which they fall:
• Obstructive – meaning that viable sperm cannot physically leave your body because of an obstruction or blockage
• Non-Obstructive – whereby your testes do not readily produce sperm of sufficient quality or number
Having Obstructive Azoospermia means that whilst you may be producing healthy sperm in your testes, they are unable to leave your reproductive organs normally because of an obstruction or blockage.
This can be owing to a congenital absence of a section of the reproductive tubes themselves (the vas deferens), the presence of cysts which can cause a blockage in your ejaculatory ducts, swelling of your testicles or reproductive organs due to either an infection or injury, or even residual scarring of tissue from a previous surgery.
Men who have previously chosen to have a Vasectomy, have elected for this as an obstructive procedure to stop semen delivery for personal or family planning reasons.
Being diagnosed with Non-Obstructive Azoospermia means that there is an absence or a much reduced production of sperm within the testicles themselves.
This can be due to an range of lifestyle factors, an abnormality of the testicles, a reduced level of the reproductive hormones that control sperm production, your family genetics (including Klinefelter syndrome or an absence of the Y-Chromosome), cancer treatments (such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy), overuse of steroids or a condition known as varicocele which causes an abnormal enlargement of the veins in your scrotum.
Retrograde ejaculation (also known as a dry orgasm) means that rather than travelling forwards and out through your urethra when you ejaculate, your semen travels backwards into your bladder instead. This happens because the muscle that should contract over your bladder when you climax is too relaxed and fails to work correctly. Retrograde Ejaculation is potentially caused by certain medications used in the treatment of enlarged prostate, depression and high blood pressure but it can also be caused by other conditions, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and even spinal cord injury.
How is it diagnosed?
To diagnose Azoospermia, you will need to have a semen analysis test. You can order this test directly from our website.
Your fertility specialist will thoroughly review your medical history to ascertain which, if any, further investigations are required. Additional tests may include a physical examination of your testicles and epididymis, blood tests to measure your levels of reproductive hormones: such as testosterone and follicle stimulating hormones (FSH), a chromosomal evaluation to diagnose any unknown or hereditary genetic causes, ultrasound scans or a biopsy.
What treatment is available?
If your condition is treatable, your consultant will recommend the best course of action for you based on your diagnosis and medical history.