Infertility in Men
Infertility in men is a factor in approximately one-third of all couples’ reproductive challenges. While fertility struggles can be extremely frustrating and emotionally exhausting, they are highly treatable and are not necessarily a barrier to pregnancy with the right intervention.
Infertility is the inability to conceive a child after consistent attempts for one year or longer. Approximately 14% of all couples are infertile. Roughly 33% of cases of infertility have male factor infertility as a cause.
Male factor infertility is the failure to produce sufficient healthy sperm to fertilize the female reproductive cell (egg). Infertility in men might be caused by physical blockages that inhibit the transfer of sperm, low sperm production or motility due to advanced age, or lifestyle factors that contribute to reduced ability to generate healthy sperm.
Additionally, many medications – prescription or otherwise – can affect testosterone production and reduce sperm quality. Certain antibiotics, prostate enlargement drugs, and antidepressants can cause male fertility challenges.
In many instances, there are no obvious outward signs of infertility apart from the inability to conceive a child. However, there can be certain indications that infertility could be an issue.
Male Infertility Treatment
Treating male infertility successfully involves a comprehensive diagnostic screening. This might involve the following tests:
- Physical exam. A physical exam to identify fertility issues will involve a consultation with a board-certified male urologist specializing in infertility. The specialist will address your development, sexual history, possible injuries, and health concerns. There will also be an examination of your genital area for structural abnormalities.
- Specimen screening. You will be asked to provide a semen sample for laboratory analysis. The sample will be analyzed for anomalies in sperm motility and shape.
- Sperm function assessment. This evaluation involves a series of tests to assess the health and vigor of sperm post-ejaculation.
- Urinalysis. This test screens for the presence of sperm in the urine, which is an indication of a condition called retrograde ejaculation. Retrograde ejaculation is when the semen travels into the bladder rather than exiting through the penis post-orgasm.
- Ultrasound test. A scrotal ultrasound test helps clinicians visualize the inner structure of the scrotum.
Once the cause of your fertility struggles is determined, you will receive a personalized treatment plan. The treatment might include the following options:
- Surgical intervention. If structural issues are interfering with the sperm’s ability to travel efficiently out of the penis, a surgical correction might be warranted. In cases of irreversible vasectomy, sperm can be accessed directly from the testicles via microsurgical extraction.
- Medications. Medications can be prescribed to address reproductive tract infections, erectile dysfunction, and hormone imbalances.
- Lifestyle modifications. In cases where suboptimal fertility is caused or exacerbated by obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption, a sedentary lifestyle, or poor diet, making the appropriate adjustments could help enhance sperm quality.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). This procedure combines in vitro fertilization with a technique that introduces sperm directly into the egg via injection.
At Reproductive Gynecology & Infertility, we are dedicated to helping people achieve pregnancy using next-generation techniques and dedicated clinical support.