A new, simple test developed by scientists can predict whether men with zero sperm counts are capable of fathering children through in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
Current methods rely on surgery to find out if a man has viable sperm that can be retrieved for fertility treatment.
The research, in Science Translational Medicine, suggests two biomarkers can identify who will benefit from surgery, the BBC reported.
Male infertility is responsible for about half of cases of infertility.
Men who produce no sperm can sometimes be helped to father a biological child through fertility treatment if they have normal sperm that can be extracted surgically.
Others will never be able to father a child naturally and need to use donor sperm.
With current technology, the only way to find out if a man has viable sperm is to carry out surgery to look for sperm in the testes.
The new test, developed by scientists in Canada, has identified two biomarkers in sperm, which can be used to predict whether sperm retrieval will be successful.
Dr Keith Jarvi of the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada, said the holy grail of his research was to find a way to help men avoid unnecessary testicular biopsies.