Azoospermia - now what?
No couple trying for a baby expects to read the word ‘Azoospermia’ on a sperm analysis test result. Unfortunately, for some men the diagnosis is just this.
What is ‘Azoospermia’?
If there are no spermatozoa in a sperm sample, then the doctors call this condition ‘azoospermia’. In some cases, this is due to an obstruction because of anatomic anomalies or an infection (obstructive azoospermia). In these cases, spermatozoa are produced normally but there is something blocking them on their way from the testicles. In other cases however, a man’s testicles produce no spermatozoa. This is called ‘non-obstructive azoospermia’. In these patients, spermatozoa are not detected even in a testicular biopsy.
In patients with obstructive azoospermia a testicular biopsy usually is the way forward. During this procedure, the goal is to obtain pre-mature spermatozoa and freeze them so that they can be used in an IVF cycle to fertilize the female partner’s oocytes. The fertility experts and the embryologists at Gennima IVF are very experienced in treating such patients and they have helped many couples.
The therapeutic approach is quite different for patients with non-obstructive azoospermia. The only way for them to create a family is through sperm donation, so the female partner’s eggs get fertilized using a donor sperm sample from a Sperm Bank. A suitable donor (according to the patient’s characteristics such as height, complexion, eye color etc) is selected following an appointment with the Sperm Bank. Sperm donation in Greece is anonymous, according to the Greek law, so the donor can never meet the couple and the couple may never meet the donor. The only information available about the donor is any medically relevant facts.
Sperm donation is a rather straight forward medical treatment, but of course there are important moral and psychological issues to be addressed. Any couple considering sperm donation needs to be thoroughly informed before giving consent to a fertility treatment (IUI or IVF) with sperm donation. The fertility expert and the sperm bank must provide all the necessary information and answer any questions. Some couples might need help from a mental health support worker. It’s not an easy decision to make, at least not for all couples. One needs to accept this treatment not only with their mind but also with their heart. Sometimes, dealing with such news psychologically might take longer and might be more difficult than the fertility treatment itself. Personal stories and other couples’ experiences seem to really help. A support group is always a good idea. It is important that you have realized what you are about to do and why. This is a delicate matter and it is very important that you have all your questions answered.