Male Infertility

July 1, 2010

Male factor infertility is the cause of approximately 50% of infertility cases in couples today. Some couples are affected by both male and female infertility at the same time. Traditionally, when a couple had trouble conceiving, the first assumption, made even by doctors, was that the woman was suffering from a fertility problem. The suggestion that a man might be infertile was taboo. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. Men are encouraged to think about their own fertility and to go for testing if they suspect there is a problem.

Male Infertility Causes

Sperm production problems - some men produce only very low numbers of active sperm cells, or only sperm cells which have problems with their motility (ability to swim and to penetrate an egg cell) and their morphology (for example, if they have an abnormal shape and structure). Men with sperm production issues may find that they can't get their partners pregnant without undergoing some fertility treatment.

Structural problems in the male reproductive organs - some men have blockages in their testicles, or other structural problems that prevent sperm cells from coming out in a man's semen, or may even prevent him from ejaculating at all. Erectile problems can also interfere with male fertility.

Underlying medical conditions - some men may be suffering from medical problems (possibly undiagnosed) that reduce their fertility. Some genetic conditions are known to make men infertile.

Hormonal imbalance - hormones play a major role in male fertility just as they do in female fertility. Without the correct levels of the male hormone, testosterone, for example, a man's testicles may be unable to produce enough good quality sperm cells.

Tests

Tests for male fertility include sperm analysis, blood and urine tests, ultrasound exams and even surgical investigations.

As the name suggests, sperm analysis examines the quantity and quality of sperm cells in a man's semen; blood tests look at hormones to check whether or not a man is suffering from an underlying medical condition; and ultrasound exams or surgical investigations are aimed at discovering physical problems affecting the male reproductive organs.

All these tests are performed in fertility clinics or hospitals. There are a few brands of home male fertility tests, which primarily check sperm count, available for purchase in shops and online.

Treatment

A man, who improves his diet, loses weight, and gives up smoking and drinking, can sometimes improve his sperm production - therefore this is likely to be the first recommended treatment method. Thereafter, more invasive treatment procedures may be implemented. These may include surgery or hormone therapy. Artificial reproduction techniques such as IVF and IUI also help otherwise infertile men to become fathers.

Coping With Male Infertility

A man may find his infertility very damaging to his self-esteem. He may also, generally speaking, be reluctant to talk about how he's feeling. He may need emotional support from his partner and reassurance of her loyalty. He may also benefit from the assistance of a counselor or a support group for men with fertility problems.

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