A Guide to Obstructive Azoospermia and Microsurgical Sperm Extraction

March 15, 2018

Infertility Treatment

Fertility Technologies

Fertility & Pregnancy

Health

Catching that elusive egg can often feel like a laborious game of cat and mouse. If you’ve been planning a baby for some time now, you’re likely no stranger to the magical monthly spectacle we call the ovulation window. It’s a spectacular little time of the month when all roads open to potential parenthood, a single prized egg from the ovaries making its way down a fallopian tube, to make a grand appearance at the top of the uterus. Once it reaches the end of the fallopian tube, it invites likely suitors, otherwise known as sperm. Only, sometimes, despite grand efforts to time intercourse within the ovulation window, a man doesn’t release adequate sperm, resulting in a lonely, unfertilised egg, month after month. The phenomenon is known as obstructive azoospermia, a condition that causes male infertility.

What Is Obstructive Azoospermia?

Obstructive azoospermia is a condition where a man’s semen contains no traces of sperm due to duct blockages or other internal occlusions. Unlike non-obstructive azoospermia cases where sperm motility itself is a concern, obstructive azoospermia is caused by blockages in the male reproductive tract. Because the condition stems from one or more physical obstructions that hamper sperm movement, directly retrieving sperm from the testicles is the most effective way to promote assisted conception. Obstructive azoospermia contributes to approximately 40 percent of azoospermia cases.

What Causes Obstructive Azoospermia?

As the name suggests, obstructive azoospermia is triggered by obstructions in the testicular ducts, impairing movement of sperm. In some ductal cases, the ducts may be blocked; in others, they may be missing altogether. In the latter case, the absence of the vas deferens implies that sperm will never reach the urethra, given that the tubal connection between the testicles and the urethra does not exist.

How Can Obstructive Azoospermia Be Overcome?

First, the good news: obstructive azoospermia can be worked around. Men with obstructive azoospermia have an array of options to choose from when planning a family. A corrective surgery called a vasoepididymostomy is a popular azoospermia treatment for those who want to eliminate the obstruction entirely. This may allow for a natural pregnancy, without the aid of assisted reproduction tools. A vasoepididymostomy, however, is not a surefire way of achieving natural conception. Statistics show that the surgery helps up to 4 in 10 couples conceive naturally. To ensure a higher success rate for conception, microsurgical sperm extraction may be recommended.

How Can Microsurgical Sperm Extraction Help In Conception?

Microsurgical sperm extraction is a routine that aims at maximising the number of sperm extracted. The retrieval of sperm through the epididymis is usually paired with a supplementary fertility technique such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Usually, in case of an IVF procedure, eggs from the female partner are extracted on the same day as the sperm retrieval routine, to ensure fresh samples for fertilisation. On Cloudnine, we strive to gather an optimal quantity of sperm during a given cycle, to ensure the best chances of fertilisation.

Microsurgical sperm extraction is a useful, versatile procedure that can aid in uniting the the sperm and the egg. If you’ve been facing trouble conceiving, consider meeting a doctor to discuss a route to conception. Consider this a tiny roadblock on the way to bright, happy days. With Cloudnine, the best is yet to be.  

If you found this article interesting and would like to know more, talk to a Cloudnine expert today!

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