DNA SolutionsMany times, men and women who go in for infertility treatment find out that they are suffering from either azoospermia or premature ovarian failure, respectively. While these conditions are fairly common, there has never been a sound explanation for why this occurs in some men and women and not others.

After many years of finding no exact cause for premature ovarian failure (POF), a new study published in the journal Human and Molecular Genetics and The New England Journal of Medicine says that it may have a genetic link. In addition, researchers think this genetic link may also explain Azoospermia, another condition that causes infertility.

Researchers state that the culprit for both conditions is the STAG3 gene. The mutation of this gene creates problems in the production of gamete cells, which affect its chromosomal stability, regulation and cell differentiation, among other things. This finding allows doctors to assert with some confidence that mutations in the STAG3 Gene are related to infertility and that POF and Azoospermia are two conditions that result from this mutation.

POF is a condition that affects up to 4 percent of women who are still in the childbearing years that occurs when the ovaries stop working before the age of 40. It can develop as early as adolescence or can even be a condition a woman has from birth. Typically a woman suffering from POF will have no periods or very irregular ones. In addition, they could have symptoms that are usually associated with menopause, which include: hot flashes, irritability, dryness in the vagina, little or no sex drive, interrupted sleep patterns or trouble sleeping and irritability.

Azoospermia is when a man has no sperm in his semen. Generally, the condition means that the man has fertility issues. It affects up to 1 percent of the male population overall, and up to 20 percent of the men are considered infertile.

Many men and women with these conditions are unaware that they have them until they have trouble getting pregnant. Typically, the diagnosis is uncovered when they do a fertility workup at the beginning of treatment. It is important to note, however, that some men and women who are suffering from these conditions can sometimes get pregnant despite their diagnosis.

Knowing what the problem is, however, is only part of the information we need. Research will continue to understand why this occurs, what factors must be present in order to cause the condition, and of course, how to treat it. But the finding is significantly helpful in that it gives researches solid ground from which to start searching for more answers.

Premature ovarian failure or azoospermia can be a difficult diagnosis to hear for men and women who are seeking treatment for infertility. However, studies like this one that are discovering what is causing the problem are a great first step to finding a way to treat this troubling fertility condition more effectively.

Sources:
“Genetic Cause Found for Premature Ovarian Failure.” www.medicalnewstoday.com. 9 March 2014. Web. March 31 2014. < http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/273651.php>

“Premature Ovarian Failure – Topic Overview.” www.webmd.com. Web. 31 March 2014. < http://www.webmd.com/menopause/tc/premature-ovarian-failure-topic-overview>

“Azoospermia.” En.wikipedia.org. Web. 4 June 2014. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azoospermia>