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  • Oligoasthenoteratozoospermia, or OAT, is a condition that includes oligozoospermia (low number of sperm), asthenozoospermia (poor sperm movement), and teratozoospermia (abnormal sperm shape). It is the most common cause of male subfertility. Subfertility is a condition where a man has been unable to get a woman pregnant after one year of unprotected regular sex. The causes of OAT include genetics, infections, hormonal imbalance, a varicocele, and the use of certain drugs. Other causes include problems with the immune system, smoking, drinking alcohol, and using illegal drugs. The male reproductive system includes the testicles, prostate, penis, scrotum, vas deferens, epididymis, and seminal ducts. Each testicle inside the scrotum produces sperm.
  • Signs and symptoms include being unable to produce a child, and increased body hair and breast tissue. A whitish to yellowish discharge from the penis may be seen. A mass or swelling on the scrotum that feels like a bag of worms may also be present. A complete physical, reproductive, and sexual health history may be needed to diagnose OAT. Diagnostic tests may include semen and sperm analysis, blood tests, a scrotal ultrasound, spermatic venography, and genetic screening. Treatment may include medicines, sperm extraction, surgery to remove a varicocele, and percutaneous embolization. With treatment, such as medicine and sperm extraction, your infertility may be resolved and your partner may conceive.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


Treatment of OAT may cause unpleasant side effects. Some medicines may cause headaches, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting (throwing up), and irritability. Others may cause allergies, rashes, and problems with your liver. Certain hormone medicines may cause edema (swelling), changes in body shape, oily skin, and depression. You could get an infection with sperm extraction or surgery. Your stomach, intestines, blood vessels, or kidneys may get injured or burned during surgery. Problems during surgery, such as an injury to your bladder, may lead to open surgery. This is surgery to open your abdomen (stomach) and repair the injuries. Varicoceles may come back even after treatment. Even with treatment, subfertility may still be a problem. Without treatment, you may be unable to get a woman pregnant. Ask your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your condition, medicine, or care.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.


You may be given the following medicines:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants may be suggested by your caregiver to decrease damage to sperm caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS may affect normal sperm function. Antioxidants may include vitamin E, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and glutathione.
  • Hormones: These may be given if a hormone imbalance in the reproductive system is present.
  • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Steroids: This medicine may be given to decrease inflammation.


You may need any of the following:

  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
  • Genetic screening: Genetic testing to look for abnormal genes may be done if there is a low sperm count.
  • Semen analysis: A semen analysis is a test to check a man's fertility. A semen sample will be taken. Semen is the thick, white, sperm-containing fluid released during ejaculation (process of ejecting semen from the penis). An increased number of white blood cells in the semen may cause problems with the sperm's movement and function. You may need to talk with your caregiver about the method of sample collection.
  • Sperm analysis: The movement of sperm and how it moves through mucus may be tested. A computer-aided sperm analysis to measure sperm numbers may also be done.
  • Spermatic venography: This test will examine and show the position of the veins in the scrotum. During this test, your caregiver will put dye into your body and take x-rays to look for the varicocele. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to shellfish (lobster, crab, or shrimp), as you may also be allergic to this dye.
  • Ultrasonography: A scrotal ultrasound uses sound waves to find lumps and other changes in your testicles and scrotum.

Treatment options:

  • Percutaneous embolization: This procedure may be used to treat a varicocele. An obstruction (blockage) is made in the enlarged veins. This stops the flow of blood and treats a varicocele.
  • Sperm extraction: Sperm may be extracted (removed) from the testicles or epididymis if an obstruction is present. The collected sperm may be saved or used to fertilize a woman's egg.
  • Surgery: Surgery may need to be done, such as removing a varicocele. Ask your caregiver for more information if you need these surgeries.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Oligoasthenoteratozoospermia (Inpatient Care)

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