What is infertility in men?

This condition refers to the male’s inability to cause pregnancy in the fertile female. This occurs when there is a problem fertilising the woman’s egg cell, also called the ovum. This commonly involves deficiencies in the semen, such as the quality or quantity of the sperm. The main reason a couple first present themselves at our fertility clinic for assessment is when they experience difficulty conceiving.

The first lab test that your IPSA Medical fertility specialist usually recommends is semen analysis. However, infertility can be due to a number of reasons which affect production or the transport of the sperm.

Men renew their supply of germ cells regularly (germ cells are the ones that develop into sperm cells). A single ejaculate of semen can release around 200 million sperm cells, however, to fertilise an egg, the sperm count should be around 20 million sperm cells (on average) per millilitre.

We analyse your sperm sample at your IPSA Medical fertility clinic for motility (over 50% of your sperm should be motile) and shape (one-third of your sperm should be a normal shape). In the event of any abnormal findings, your results will be explained to you and if further action is required, we can seek appropriate treatment for your specific situation.

What are the symptoms?

You should seek advice from a specialist if you have been trying to conceive and have experienced any of the following:

  • Been trying to conceive for 12+ months of unprotected sexual intercourse, but haven’t managed to yet.
  • Problems ejaculating (none at all, or small amounts of fluid)
  • Reduced sexual desire
  • Erectile dysfunction

In addition to sexual function, it may be a sign of infertility if you have experienced:

  • Recurrent respiratory infection
  • Abnormal breast growth
  • Pain or swelling in the scrotum

What are the causes?

Sperm

One of the highest causes of infertility is insufficient sperm count, a factor in around 1 in 3 couples who are struggling to get pregnant.

Causes of low sperm count might be due to: genetics, a hormonal imbalance, or undescended testicles.

Testicles

The testis create male hormones, including testosterone, and produce sperm. Problems with the testicles can lead to hormonal problems, hinder sexual function, and lead to infertility.

If the root of the problem lies in the testicles, then this could be caused by a number of reasons, including:

  • Damage due to an infection
  • Undescended testicles
  • An injury
  • An issue at birth
  • Testicular cancer

Varicocele

Varicocele signifies an abnormal number of protruding veins above the testicle. This is a common case of male infertility, impacting 38% of men experiencing infertility issues. The effects of varicocele can be reversed through treatment.

Hypogonadism

Hypogonadism refers to the reduced or complete absence of testosterone activity, testosterone being the sex hormone involved in making sperm.

Medicines, drugs

If you have taken a certain type of prescribed medicine, it’s possible that it could lead to fertility problems. Illegal drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine, can also impact the quality of semen.

In rare cases, male infertility could be caused by a tumour, or Klinefelter syndrome, a rare syndrome where a man is born with an extra female chromosome.

For 25% of couples, no cause can be identified.

What do tests entail?

We analyse your sperm sample at your IPSA Medical fertility clinic for motility (over 50% of your sperm should be motile) and shape (one-third of your sperm should be a normal shape). In the event of any abnormal findings, your results will be explained to you and any further action needed will be taken, with your permission and dependant on your specific situation.

Can infertility be treated?

Whatever your situation, there is a good chance that the condition can be reversed.

Treatments for male infertility include:

  • Surgery. For example, if your varicocele causes infertility, you might want to undergo varicocele repair. This can improve the quality of the sperm and cure infertility.
  • Treatments for sexual intercourse problems. Medication or therapy can help advance fertility in situations such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.
  • Hormone treatments and medications. Your doctor might recommend hormone replacement or medications in cases where infertility is caused by high or low levels of certain hormones or any hormonal abnormalities.
  • Treating infections. Antibiotic treatment can cure an infection of the reproductive tract but doesn’t always restore fertility.

Assisted reproductive technology (ART). There are a variety of ART treatments, depending on your specific case and needs. One of the simplest forms of ART involves obtaining sperm through normal ejaculation and inserting the prepared sperm into the uterus (womb) of the woman during the ovulation period. Other forms of treatment involve surgical extraction.

If you think you may suffer from Male Infertility then call or email us today. You can also book an appointment online.

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