A vasography is a male fertility test in which radiographic dye is injected into the testicles and an image of the testicles. This image shows whether or not any blockages are present. This test is primarily aimed at determining whether or not the sperm-carrying tubes in the testicles - the vas deferens - are obstructed.
The vas deferens are the two tubes which transport sperm cells from the place where they are storied (the epididymis) to the ejaculatory duct (the urethra) which expels semen when a man orgasms. If there is any physical abnormality in the vas deferens, such as an obstruction, this can prevent a man from having active sperm cells in his semen. Therefore, while his sexual function (i.e. his ability to get an erection and reach climax) may appear completely normal, he is actually not capable of expelling sperm cells into his partner's body, and therefore is unable to get her pregnant.
An ultrasound examination is one way of checking whether or not a man has any obstructions in his testicles. The type of exam used for this purpose is called a testicular or a scrotal ultrasound. It's very similar to an abdominal ultrasound, except that, obviously, the transducer device is moved over the scrotum. This produces images of the inside of the testicles. These images are viewed on a video screen.
Ultrasound With Vasography
However, sometimes these images are unclear. For example, it may appear that there are blockages, but it may not be clear exactly where they are located. If a blockage is to be rectified by surgery, it's essential that the surgeon has the best possible information on what he is looking for before surgery begins. That's where vasography comes in. The contrast dye injected into the testicles travels through the vas deferens and shows up clearly on the ultrasound screen. If there is a blockage and the dye is unable to pass the whole way through, this will be clearly visible.
Sometimes, when the dye is injected, an x-ray of the testicles is taken, as opposed to an ultrasound image. The X-ray has the same purpose as the ultrasound exam.
Vasography is by no means always necessary. It is generally reserved for patients who have had unclear testicular ultrasound exams, but who are also definitely suspected of having a blockage in the vas deferens or other ejaculatory ducts. Other candidates for a vasography exam include:
- Men who ejaculate small amounts of semen in which no sperm cells are present (a condition called azoospermia)
- Men who ejaculate small volumes of semen in which only poor quality sperm cells or sperm cells with poor motility are present
Some men do feel discomfort during a vasography test when the dye is injected into the testicles. Generally, however, any pain experienced is minimal. Many men are much more concerned by the embarrassment of getting undressed and exposing themselves in order for the ultrasound device to be moved around the scrotum. A blanket or cover is provided so that a man can maintain his modesty to some degree. It's important to remember that the person carrying out the exam has seen it all a hundred times before. Try not to dwell on the embarrassment factor, rather, focus on the main goal: becoming a Dad.