Male Infertility – Causes and Treatments

Jul 11, 2022 | Fertility, IVF, Male Infertility

Increasing the family with a baby is the dream of many couples, however, it is not always possible.
There are estimates that the problem affects about 15% of couples of reproductive age. The causes may lie with the man, the woman, or both.
Usually, a couple is considered to have fertility problems after a year of unsuccessful attempts at pregnancy. In this case it is recommended that the couple should seek a specialist in human reproduction, a gynecologist or urologist, to investigate the causes. It is important to reinforce that both men and women must be evaluated by their respective doctors.
There are several causes for male infertility, one of them is the diet that men practice today.
However, there are other causes that trigger male infertility, such as varicocele and the use of anabolic steroids.

How to diagnose male infertility

 

Spermogram

The spermogram is the most important data analysis test to identify problems related to male fertility. It evaluates the concentration, motility, and morphology of the spermatozoa. 

The seminal characteristics of the same individual can vary according to factors such as sexual abstinence before collection, the way the sample is collected, changes in the patient’s health (such as fever), and the use of medications. To obtain a more precise result, two spermogram analyses are recommended so that a more reliable diagnostic profile can be drawn.

Hormone Evaluation

By performing blood tests, it is possible to investigate the hormone dosage and find out if there are any hormones in imbalance that may be affecting fertility. The regular level of these substances is essential for the functioning of the reproductive system.

In the male organism, the main hormone is testosterone, which is responsible for libido and reproductive functions. 

Sperm function tests

The available sperm function tests check for:

  • sperm vitality;
  • the presence of leukocytes
  • the presence of antisperm antibodies
  • the existence of reactive oxygen species
  • damage to the sperm DNA

Testicular sac ultrasonography

The ultrasonography of the testicular sac analyses aspects such as testicular volume, presence of nodules, and possible alterations that indicate hydrocele (accumulation of fluid). This exam can be complemented with Dopplerfluxometry, which investigates the existence of blood reflux in the testicles’ veins and the possibility of varicocele.

Several other problems can be identified with scrotum ultrasonography, such as testicle inflammation (inflammation), cysts, hernias, atrophies, spermatic cord obstructions, and even testicular cancer.

 Cause of male infertility

Anatomical problems

Some men suffer from anatomical problems from birth or resulting from surgery that can be the causes of infertility in men.

Cryptorchidism, for example, is a very common condition in babies in which one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum. Despite this, a relatively simple surgery during infancy solves the problem.

Another anatomical alteration is varicocele, which is a disease in which the veins around the testicles swell. However, this is the easiest cause of male infertility to treat.

Inflammation or Infection in the Testicles

Any kind of inflammation or infection can impair sperm production.

Some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) – such as gonorrhea and HIV, for example – can interfere with sperm quality and cause fertility problems.

Signs of infection can include prostate pain and swelling in the prostate. 

Problems in sperm transport

Sometimes, the man has an adequate production of spermatozoa in the testicles, but they do not reach the semen.

Some of the reasons are retrograde ejaculation: the semen is expelled behind the bladder instead of being eliminated by the penis,

Obstruction: obstruction in the tubes between the testicles and the penis; anti-sperm antibodies: antibodies that attack and destroy the sperm; absence of the vas deferens: genetic condition in which a man does not have the vas deferens, a tube that serves to transport the spermatozoa.

Hormonal changes and inadequate sperm production

Changes in the functioning of organs related to hormone production – such as the pituitary, thyroid, hypothalamus, and adrenal glands, for example – can affect sperm production.

In fact, hormonal imbalances can affect ejaculation, testosterone levels, and sperm count, for example.

In fact, a low sperm count in semen or poor semen quality, for example, can reduce the chance of fertilization of the female egg.

Cancer

Certain tumors can interfere with the functioning of the male reproductive organs.

There are also cases where it is not the cancer that causes infertility, but the treatment of the disease.

Drug Use

Just as drugs to treat cancer can impair fertility, other types of drugs can also impact male reproductive health.

There are several risk factors that increase a man’s chances of becoming infertile. Some of them are old age; smoking; alcohol abuse; exposure to high temperatures; obesity or being overweight; use of illicit substances; exposure to toxins such as pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals, for example.

So, to avoid problems, it is important to take care of your health as a whole and stay away from bad habits. Smoking and drinking, for example, harm not only your reproductive health, but also your health as a whole.

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