What is Non-Obstructive Azoospermia?

Non- Obstructive Azoospermia (NOA) is a condition in which the man is not able to produce any sperm. Almost 10% of the total cases regarding infertility in men are because of this condition.

In, the case of NOA the sperm production is hampered due to testicular problems.

What causes Non-Obstructive Azoospermia?

There are various reasons as to why this condition develops.

  • Testicular malfunction: Refers to the failure of the testes to produce sperms. This condition can arise due to various reasons, like a physical injury, chromosome problems, testicular diseases, etc.
  • Hormonal imbalance: Sperm production occurs with the assistance of hormones. Lack or absence of these hormones can lead to the development of NOA.
  • Varicocele: This condition develops as a result of the expansion of veins in one′s scrotum. As a result, the blood circulation in this region is disturbed, which leads to poor or no sperm production.

At times, even genetic abnormalities lead to the development of NOA in a man, post puberty.

How does it affect fertility?

A man with NOA is unable to produce sperms and therefore, the couple cannot conceive naturally. But there are various options that can help him overcome NOA for successful conception. Today, doctors can retrieve healthy sperms and then use them to fertilise the egg through the IVF procedures.

How is it Diagnosed?

Physical exam: This is the first step that a doctor takes towards diagnoses; small sized testicles usually indicate low sperm production.

Clinical tests: The main indicator of NOA in a patient is a low sperm count. Therefore, tests are conducted to detect the same. Other than this, tests are also conducted to identify the levels of certain hormones (Eg., testosterone). Any imbalance in their levels may lead to NOA.

Can non-obstructive azoospermia be treated?

NOA is treated according to the intensity of the condition, which tends to vary from person to person. Patients with mild NOA or where hormone imbalance is the cause with medication and hormone therapy can be treated.

But the most widely used method of treatment and fertilisation is direct sperm aspiration from the testis to retrieve healthy sperm, followed by an IVF procedure. This procedure has helped many couples, where the male partner has NOA, conceive.

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