Finding “Hidden” Sperm that Others Miss
Cryptozoospermia, also termed “virtual azoospermia,” is a condition in which virtually no sperm is observed in a fresh semen sample —they are only discovered after an extensive search. Because there are so few sperm in the ejaculate, they are incredibly difficult to find and very easy to miss.
When there is a miniscule amount of sperm in the ejaculate, the chances of the sperm reaching and fertilizing an egg and leading to pregnancy are slim. But with the help of Beverly Hills male infertility expert Dr. Paul Turek, it is possible to achieve pregnancies. Dr. Turek offers advanced medical solutions to find and use even the smallest numbers of sperm to help you and your partner conceive.
Causes of Cryptozoospermia
Some cases of cryptozoospermia are caused by a problem with the way sperm is produced in the testes. This can occur for hormonal reasons, such as a problem with the normal pituitary hormonal stimulation of the testicles to produce sperm. Or, there may be a problem with the testicle itself, caused by genetic abnormalities, injuries, infections or improper descent of the testicle into the scrotum at birth. Another common condition that interferes with sperm production is a varicocele, which is a network of enlarged veins in the scrotum. Varicoceles cause the testes to “overheat,” thereby reducing their capacity to make sperm.
In some cases of cryptozoospermia, sperm is produced normally in the testes but there is a problem with the way sperm is delivered to the ejaculate. There may be a blockage in the ducts beyond the testicle that carry the ejaculate or an ejaculatory disorder that prevents semen from exiting the penis.
Dr. Turek’s goal is to determine whether cryptozoospermia is caused by sperm production or delivery problems. To do this, he takes a detailed medical history, performs a complete physical exam and examines hormone levels and lab studies such as ultrasounds to identify the root cause of cryptozoospermia. This information helps to guide treatment.
A Thorough Semen Analysis Can Find “Hidden” Sperm
With cryptozoospermia, the sperm count is so low that the sperm are very difficult to find and easy to miss. Results of a semen analysis can vary from test to test and lab to lab. A quick look at the semen analysis might show a zero sperm count (azoospermia). But, a harder and longer look might find small numbers of sperm. Finding even small numbers of sperm in the ejaculate can eliminate unnecessary surgery on the testicle to find sperm, along with its associated effort, expense and risk.
Dr. Turek will try to diagnose your condition correctly and help you avoid the time, expense and risk of unnecessary surgical treatments. He asks for two semen samples for analysis, as the second sample may turn up sperm even if the first does not. Then, his trusted lab with years of experience performs a very thorough semen analysis, including evaluating the concentrate portion of centrifuged semen. During the test, the sperm is spun in a centrifuge to concentrate the sperm cells into a tiny, pinhead sized pellet. This makes it easier to search for and detect sperm using a microscope. A centrifuged pellet assessment can detect sperm in 10 to 20 percent of men in whom a routine semen analysis shows no sperm.
In most cases, men with very few ejaculated sperm can become fathers without needing surgery. Beverly Hills expert Dr. Turek’s research has shown that the odds of needing sperm retrieval procedures are very low when small numbers of ejaculated sperm are reliably found. In addition, his experience using these rare sperm has been very favorable and similar to that of using harvested testicular sperm. Through harvesting small numbers of sperm from these semen samples, collecting and freezing them, sufficient sperm numbers are made available for in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to achieve pregnancy.
To learn more about treatments for cryptozoospermia, please request an appointment with Dr. Turek at The Turek Clinic. Contact us today to schedule your visit.