The prevalence of azoospermia is approximately 1% among all men and ranges between 10% and 15% among infertile men.
The initial diagnosis of azoospermia is established when no spermatozoa can be detected on high-powered microscopic examination of a pellet after centrifugation of the seminal fluid on at least two separate occasions.
There are two different types of azoospermia:
- Obstructive azoospermia: In this case, there is normal sperm production, but the canal connecting the testicles with the urethra is blocked. This means no measurable sperm can get into the semen.
- Non-obstructive azoospermia: This type is poor sperm production. Men do not produce enough sperm for a detectable number to show up in their semen.
The treatment depends upon the cause of azoospermia and is tailored to the individual patient. The most common method for sperm retrieval is the testicular sperm extraction (TESE) which involves making a small incision on the scrotum of the testis and examining the tubules for the presence of sperm. TESE is usually done as a scheduled day case procedure or is coordinated with the female partner’s egg retrieval.
In cases of non-obstructive azoospermia, when the level of spermatogenesis is very low, the most suitable examination method is Microsurgical Sperm Retrieval (MicroTESE).
MicroTESE is a procedure that allows for the precise removal of tiny volumes of testicular tissue is areas of active sperm production using a microscope, improving sperm yield compared to traditional biopsy techniques. Seminiferous tubules containing sperm can often be identified under an operating microscope after opening the testis. This approach has a number of advantages over other sperm retrieval techniques. It maximizes the yield of spermatozoa while minimizing the amount of testicular tissue required and vascular injury created, by making the identification blood vessels easier.
With a fully functional operating theatre on-site, urologists and embryologists with years of TESE experience in an adjoining full-equipped IVF laboratory, Newlife IVF Greece has proven to be well suited for all the above techniques.
Elli Kachpani, MSc
Elli is an Embryologist and a member of the scientific team of Newlife IVF Greece.