Matthew S. Wosnitzer
Published: March 2014
ABSTRACT: Men with severe oligospermia (<5 million sperm/mL ejaculate fluid) or azoospermia should receive genetic testing to clarify etiology of male infertility prior to treatment. Categorization by obstructive azoospermia (OA) or non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA) is critical since genetic testing differs for the former with normal testicular function, testicular volume (~20 mL), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) (1-8 IU/mL) when compared to the latter with small, soft testes and increased FSH. History and physician examination along with laboratory testing (following appropriate genetic counseling) is critical to accurate selection of genetic testing appropriate for azoospermia due to primary testicular failure as compared with congenital hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (HH). Genetic testing options include cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) testing for men with congenital absence of the vas, while karyotype, Y chromosome microdeletions (YCMD), and other specific genetic tests may be warranted depending on the clinical context of severe oligospermia or NOA. The results of genetic testing guide management options. The most recent techniques for genetic analysis, including sperm microRNA (miRNA) and epigenetics, are forming the foundation for future genetic diagnosis and therapeutic targets in male infertility.