Male infertility due to Y chromosome


Y chromosome infertility is a condition that affects production of sperm. It is almost impossible for these men to father children. With dysfunctional Y chromosome, an affected man’s body may product no sperm cells at all, a condition known as azoospermia. Alternately, a man may produce very few sperm which may not emerge from the testes, a condition known as oligospermia. Sometimes there are sperm, but they are malformed and do not move properly.

Can men with Y chromosome infertility have children?

Men with oligospermia can father children, sometimes naturally but most often with medical intervention. The sperm can be extracted from the testes and used with in vitro fertilization to achieve a pregnancy. The most severely affected men, the ones with no sperm or malformed sperm, have a condition called Sertoli cell-only syndrome. There are no symptoms and there is no cure or treatment. Occasionally some men with the condition will have small testicles or undescended testicles.

Is this a common condition?

Y chromosome infertility is uncommon. It occurs in approximately 1 in 2,000 to 3,000 males of all ethnic groups. The condition is responsible for 5-10% of cases of azoospermia or severe oligospermia.

How does a genetic condition occur?

This form of infertility is caused by gaps in the Y chromosome. Normally, people have 46 chromosomes on each cell. Two of these are sex chromosomes referred to as X and Y. Females have two X chromosomes while men have an X and a Y. Since the Y chromosome makes a person male, it makes sense that this chromosome also determines reproductive abilities. Y chromosome infertility is caused by deletions of genetic material in regions of the Y chromosome. Genes in this region are believed to provide instructions for making the proteins involved in sperm cell development. Thus, deletions in this area will cause azoospermia or oligospermia.

Since it’s genetic, is the condition inheritable?

Yes, to boys only. When men with Y chromosome infertility have children, the condition is passed on the Y chromosome to their sons. Since girls have the double X chromosomal configuration, they do not inherit the condition. It is referred to as Y-linked.

Source: Genetics Home Reference


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