Azoospermia can cause serious problems with sperm production and transfer, ultimately preventing a man's sperm from entering his ejaculate. This can make pregnancy very difficult, if not impossible.

Men with azoospermia generally have no symptoms and the condition can only be diagnosed through a sperm count. There are two types of azoospermia:

  1. Obstructive azoospermia: This occurs when a blockage in the duct system prevents sperm from mixing with semen. These obstructions may be present in the vas deferens or epididymis and account for 40 percent of azoospermia cases.
  2. Non-obstructive azoospermia: This occurs when there is a problem with the body's production of sperm. It is often the result of hormonal imbalances. Non-obstructive azoospermia accounts for 60 percent of azoospermia cases.

Penn Fertility Care works in collaboration with Penn Urology to offer the latest techniques in treating azoospermia. These include:

  • Percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA), a procedure for men with either congenital or acquired obstructions causing an absence of sperm in the ejaculate (obstructive azoospermia) 
  • Testicular sperm extraction (TESE), a procedure for men who do not have sperm in the epididymis. 

PESA involves local anesthesia and does not require an incision or hospitalization. The amount of sperm collected through PESA is sufficient to assure the fertilization of an egg and for freezing. It is less expensive than other infertility procedures and offers the patient a quick recovery.

TESE, on the other hand, is an effective procedure used to retrieve sperm by performing a testicular biopsy. The testicular biopsy is a minor surgical procedure and can be performed on an outpatient basis.

Both of these procedures allow doctors to freeze unejaculated sperm for future use.

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