Men who don’t have sperm in their semen have a condition known as azoospermia. It happens to about 1% of all men and there aren’t really any symptoms that you’d notice. However, if you’ve been trying to get your partner pregnant without success, this condition could be the cause.
Similarly, low sperm count means that the fluid (semen) you ejaculate during an orgasm contains less sperm than normal.
Semen is the fluid released through the male urethra during ejaculation, and it carries sperm and fluids from the prostate gland and other male reproductive organs.
Your sperm count is considered lower than normal if you have less than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen.
Typically, semen is a thick, whitish liquid, but several conditions can change the color and consistency of semen.
Watery semen can be a sign of low sperm count, and that could be an indication of possible fertility problems. Ejaculating tinny, clear semen may also be a temporary condition with no serious health implication.
A low sperm count is known as oligospermia, while a complete absence of sperm is called azoospermia. Having a low sperm count decreases the odds that one of your sperm will fertilize your partner’s egg, nonetheless, many men who have a low sperm count are still able to father children.
Causes and Types of Azoospermia
Some men might have a problem that keeps their testicles from making sperm or that stops sperm from getting out of their body.
There are 3 known types of azoospermia:
- Pretesticular azoospermia; where your testicles are normal, but your body can’t get them to make sperm because of low hormone levels or effects of chemotherapy.
- Testicular azoospermia; where damage to your testicles keeps them from making sperm as they should. It can happen as a result of an infection in your reproductive tract, such as epididymitis, a childhood illness such as viral orchitis, which causes swelling of one or both testicles, a groin injury, cancer or its treatments (chemotherapy or radiation), and genetic conditions, such as Klinefelter’s syndrome.
- Post-testicular azoospermia; where your testicles make normal sperm, but something blocks them from getting out. This could be as a result of a blockage in the tubes that carry sperm from your testicles to your penis (obstructive azoospermia), or a vasectomy. About 40% of men with azoospermia have the post-testicular azoospermia.
Some Facts on Male Fertility
Retrograde Ejaculation: This is a situation when semen goes into your bladder instead of out of your penis during ejaculation or an orgasm.
Discolored Semen: If you notice that your semen is discolored, the color may indicate a health problem.
Pink or reddish brown semen: this could mean that your prostate is inflamed or bleeding, or there could be bleeding or inflammation in the seminal vesicle(s). These are treatable conditions.
Yellow semen: This could indicate small amounts of urine or unusually high levels of white blood cells in your semen.
Yellowish-green semen: This could mean you have a prostate infection.
The seminal vesicles are a pair of glands that help produce a substantial liquid part of semen.
Treatments of Male Fertility Issues
There are a few types of treatment that can help men with azoospermia. For the obstructive type, surgery can remove the blockage, and the earlier you notice this, the more likely it is that the surgery will be successful.
Some experts claim that if you’ve had one for less than 3 years, the chance of restoring your sperm flow is 97%, and the chance of getting a woman pregnant is 76%.
On the other hand, sperm retrieval can help men who have a blockage but don’t want surgery or those with non-obstructive azoospermia. One way to do this is to use a tiny needle to draw sperm from a testicle, which you can freeze to use later in vitro fertilization (IVF).
If you want to have a testicular biopsy (surgery), your doctor can retrieve sperm at the same time so you won’t need a second surgery for sperm retrieval.