Sperm Transport Issues

Sperm transportation

For a pregnancy to successfully take place, the sperms must find their way from the testicles to the urethra. Sperms travel through ducts or tubes like the vas deferens. In some infertile males, these ducts are missing or have damage. This is called obstruction. There are three main kinds of obstruction or sperm transport issues-

  • Congenital disorders
    When there is an abnormality present at birth, the condition is known as congenital disorders. Congenital conditions that negatively affect male fertility are the absence of the vas deferens, seminal vesicles and incomplete sperm ducts.
  • Surgical obstruction
    Obstructions can occur when specific surgery is done like in Vasectomy. A vasectomy will result in lowered sperm count or no sperms in the semen altogether.
  • Acquired disorders
    Acquired disorders happen when there is a disease or infection in a man’s reproductive system. The condition can cause scarring in the ducts and can cause obstruction. STDs like gonorrhoea and chlamydia can also cause scarring and obstruction of the sperm ducts and other reproductive system structures.
Frequently Asked Questions

Blocked ducts do not cause much discomfort or present any urgent symptoms. Men who have obstruction can have a low volume of semen during ejaculation. In rare cases, men may suffer from swollen scrotum or testicles.

Certain obstructions can be treated with surgery like in vasectomy. In cases like the congenital absence of the vas deference, the obstruction may not be effectively treated. In such cases, sperms can be retrieved from the testicle and be used to fertilize the partner’s eggs during an IVF procedure.

The epididymis is a coiled tube seen in the scrotum that collects the sperms from the testis’s seminiferous tubules. It is shaped like a crescent and lies longitudinally on the back of the testes. As it merges with the vas deferens, it becomes more straight and thick. Vas deferens then carry the sperms to the prostate and then to the seminal vesicles. In some cases, the epididymis is blocked and blocks the sperm from travelling into the vas deference. The blockage can be on both sides or one side. If the epididymal blockage is on both sides, the semen will not contain any sperms. If it is present on only one side, the semen will have a low sperm count.

  • Infection: the epididymis can give obstructions due to infections that can be due to bacteria or STDs. An infection can cause permanent scarring in the epididymis.
  • Surgery: Any surgery in the scrotum can lead to the blockage of the epididymis. The surgeries can be hydrocele repair, spermatocele repair, surgery to treat trauma or testicular torsion and vasectomy

An epididymal obstruction can be felt during a physical examination by the doctor. Tests that show azoospermia also point to possible blockage of the epididymis.

If the epididymal blockage is diagnosed, the next thing that would be done is a testicular biopsy. If the sperm production of the testes is found to be normal, a bypass of the blockage is done. A procedure called vasoepididymostomy is done to clear the blockage. If the blockage is not repairable, then there are other options for having a baby. Sperm is retrieved from the tested and is used in IVF to fertilize the egg of the partner.

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