Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Azoospermia Sterility: No Sperm?

Do you have any recommendations for azoospermia sterility?

Answer (Published 9/13/2010)

Azoospermia is different from having a low sperm count. With azoospermia, no sperm are present in semen, while having a low sperm count indicates there are insufficient numbers to induce pregnancy. Both conditions are primary contributors to male infertility.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Men's Health - Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Men's Health - Help keep your prostate healthy with simple changes to your lifestyle and diet. Learn more - and get access to an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid - start your free trial of the Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online guide today!

The cause of azoospermia may be some type of obstruction that prevents sperm from leaving the body. Or it can stem from a problem with sperm production due to genetic factors, an infection of the testicles or prostate, trauma (such as an earlier injury to the spine, pelvis, stomach or male sex organs or surgery to repair an inguinal hernia). Another possibility is a varicocele, an abnormal enlargement of the vein in the scrotum that drains the testicles.

Non-obstructive causes of azoospermia include drugs used to treat inflammation or cancer, steroids and antibiotics. Smoking, drinking alcohol, and using recreational drugs can also impair sperm production. Other possible causes could be deficient levels of hormones produced by the testes, radiation treatments for cancer, and retrograde ejaculation, in which semen travels into the bladder instead of out the urethra (usually associated with a problem in the neck of the bladder, caused by spinal cord injuries, drugs or diabetes). Exposure to pesticides, heavy metals, and heat can also lead to azoospermia, as can undescended testicles.

Conventional treatments include antibiotics if the cause is an infection, hormones if a hormone imbalance exists, and surgical correction of varicocele or other blockage. If the testes are producing any sperm, some can be extracted and used to fertilize an egg.

For either condition, I recommend consulting a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and I asked Qingcai Zhang, M.D., a Chinese physician who practices in New York City for his thoughts on azoospermia. Although he doesn’t specialize in treating this disorder, Dr. Zhang noted that in TCM, azoospermia is regarded as a kidney deficiency and explained that TCM views the kidneys as controlling reproductive as well as urinary functions. For this reason, TCM treats azoospermia by nourishing the kidneys. Dr. Zhang said that the herbal formulas most frequently used are Huan Shao Dan (Lycium Formula) and Ba Wei Di Huang Wan (Rehmannia Eight Formula). The single herb that can be used is Yin Yang Huo (Epimedium grandiflorum). Dr. Zhang said that with this kind of herbal treatment sperm count and activity usually can be improved. I encourage you to seek out a qualified TCM expert in your area who is experienced in treating male infertility.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here