What is Obstructive Azoospermia?

Obstructive Azoospermia is a condition causing infertility in men. In this, men are unable to produce sufficient amount of sperm, making his semen less fertile or even sterile. This affects almost 1% of the male population.

What causes Obstructive Azoospermia?

There can be multiple reasons to why a man develops obstructive azoospermia. Generally it develops in men who have undergone a vasectomy in the past. It can also be a result of problematic ducts or ejaculation. Additionally it can be caused by:

  • A history of testicle/epididymis infection
  • Absence of epididymis since birth ( a tube responsible for storage and transport of sperm)
  • Blockage of ejaculatory ducts

Does it have any symptoms?

There are not any noticeable symptoms in the patient's body which might develop. Therefore, the two main indicators of obstructive azoospermia are:

  • Problematic sperm production
  • Blocked ducts, which hamper ejaculation

How does it affect fertility or chances of conception?

A man who has obstructive azoospermia cannot produce enough sperms; it makes it difficult for them to conceive naturally. But, despite a low sperm count, the healthy sperms from the testis or epididymis can be retrieved successfully and then used for IVF or other techniques.

How is it diagnosed?

Physical exam: A physical exam can help diagnose the improper structure of the testicles, epididymis and other ducts. A patient with obstructive azoospermia has smaller and softer testes as compared to a healthy person.

Imaging: Ultrasound of the scrotum and prostate can help identify any problems or abnormalities in them

Clinical tests: To detect the levels of testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, etc. which influence sperm levels

Can Obstructive azoospermia be treated?

Obstructive azoospermia can be treated easily so that a couple can able to conceive naturally. According to the patient's condition there are two kinds of procedures that are performed:

  • Vasoepididymostomy : Is a surgical procedure in which a small incision to the testis to clear obstruction in the epididymal tube, responsible for transport of the sperm to the testis
  • Transurethral Resection of the Ejaculatory Duct (TURED) : Is a surgical procedure in which a small incision to the testis to clear obstruction in the ejaculatory duct, responsible for expulsion of the sperm into the vagina

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