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What Is Azoospermia? How Does It Impact Parenthood?

Low sperm count is a common fertility-related issue in men. But when there is a complete absence of sperm it is called azoospermia.

What Is Azoospermia? How Does It Impact Parenthood?

Azoospermia is commonly referred as "no sperm count"

Dealing with infertility can be overwhelming and intimidating. The percentage of infertility has drastically increased over the past few years in both men and women. Low sperm count is a common fertility-related issue in men. One's sperm count is considered low if there are fewer than 16 million sperm per millilitre of semen. When the sperm count is low, the chances of fertilizing the egg decreases. But when there is a complete absence of sperm it is called azoospermia. In this condition, there is no sperm seen in a man's ejaculated semen. In simple words, azoospermia is commonly referred as "no sperm count."

In azoospermia, one may have ejaculate but the semen does not contain sperm. There are no significant symptoms of azoospermia other than the inability to conceive. However, low or no sperm count can  be associated with the following symptoms:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Low sex drive
  • Less hair on face and rest of the body
  • Swelling or discomfort around the testicles

There are three types of azoospermia. Let's take a look at these:

1. Hypogonadotropic, Hypogonadism azoospermia

This happens when the testicles could work properly but the body is not able to produce hormones responsible for creating sperm.

2. Non Obstructive azoospermia

In this type, there are abnormalities in the function or structure of the testicles. It is a non-obstructive type. Injury, some health conditions, side effects of certain medications, radiation, tumours or Klinefelter syndrome can be the possible causes. Most of the times it is Primary Testicular Failure.

3. Obstructive  azoospermia

In Obstructive azoospermia, your testicles function properly but some sort of obstruction restricts the sperm from getting out.

Can you prevent azoospermia?

You cannot prevent azoospermia which is a result of genetic disorders. Only a few types which are a result of some injury or medication can be prevented. Here are some of the steps that can help reduce the risk:

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle and normal body weight.
  • Avoid activities that can injure the reproductive organs
  • Speak to your doctor before taking medicines, hormones, body building supplements as some of them can affect your sperm count
  • Avoid exposure to radiation, recreational drugs, excessive alcohol etc
  • Do not expose your testes to hot temperatures for too long, wear loose cotton garments 

What's important to note is even with a zero sperm count in ejaculated semen,  many men will have sperm formation happening in areas of testis. This can be evaluated by your fertility specialist and surgical sperm retrieval can help a couple conceive their own biological child. 

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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