Getting pregnant is a complicated process that depends on many factors, including women and male fertility. Unfortunately, infertility is a common issue for both women and men. At least half of these cases are due to male infertility issues. In this article, we’ll focus on male infertility, its symptoms and treatment.
What is male infertility?
Many couples trying to conceive can’t do it even with unprotected sexual intercourse for over a year. Sometimes, the problem may lay with the woman’s fertility, but it can also relate to male infertility.
Male infertility is an issue with your reproductive system that stops you from impregnating a fertile woman. This problem is often due to semen-related causes, like sperm antibodies, sperm transport, abnormal sperm function, etc. Many factors contribute to male infertility, including illnesses, chronic health problems, or lifestyle choices.
The inability to conceive a child can be stressful and frustrating, but there are many treatments for male infertility nowadays.
What factors make you prone to male infertility?
Infertility always depends on various circumstances, but you might be more likely to have it if:
- You are overweight;
- You are 40 years old or more;
- You consume tobacco, alcohol in excessive or other substances;
- You suffer from an illness (depends on the disease);
- You are chronically ill;
- You are being exposed to toxins;
- You are overheating the testicles.
These are some of the multiple risk factors that can complicate your conceiving process.
What causes male infertility?
Problems with male infertility can be caused by medical issues, environmental factors, and health & lifestyle. However, these are the main causes of male infertility:
Varicoceles: varicoceles leads to reduced sperm quantity and quality. Varicoceles are swollen veins in the scrotum, and they harm sperm growth by blocking proper blood drainage.
Sperm disorders: many problems are related to sperm disorders, including sperm cells not developing fully or not producing at all, sperm transport direction, etc.
Retrograde ejaculation: this happens when semen enters the bladder during orgasm instead of going out the penis.
Immunologic infertility: it happens when a man’s body develops antibodies that attack his own sperm due to an infection or surgery.
Hormonal disorders: hormones are responsible for testicles producing sperm. So, if you have very low hormone levels, you will have poor spermatozoon growth.
Medication: some medications to treat anxiety, depression, cancer, or high blood pressure can change sperm production, function, and delivery.
Environmental causes: some environmental issues such as industrial chemicals, heavy metal exposure, radiations, toxins and chemicals may contribute to reducing sperm and change their function and delivery.
Unhealthy habits: alcohol abuse, smoking, drug use and being overweight are possible causes of male infertility.
Male infertility symptoms:
The main sign of male infertility is the inability to conceive, even after unprotected sexual intercourse over the course of a year.
Yet, you may notice other signs or symptoms, including:
- Difficulty with ejaculation, low quantities of sperm, reduced sexual desire, or erectile dysfunction;
- Pain or swelling in the testicles;
- Inability to smell;
- Abnormal signs of chromosome hormones, such as decreased facial or body hair;
- A lower than normal sperm count.
It is also common to experience feelings of depression, failure, guilt, anxiety or loss.
If you think you’re infertile, seek professional help from healthcare providers to assist you in dealing with the situation and get some support.
How to diagnose male infertility?
Male infertility causes are not easy to diagnose. Often, the problems are related to sperm quality, function and delivery. The first exams usually involve:
Physical tests and medical history: in the physical exam, your doctor will analyze problems with your penis, varicoceles, and testicles. Also, you will be asked several questions about any hereditary conditions, diseases, health habits, chronic health problems, sexual habits, and any issues that might affect your fertility.
Semen analysis: this exam helps analyze sperm production, volume, movement and structure. Usually, the results of this analysis indicate your ability to conceive.
If those tests are inconclusive or if they confirm you are infertile, your doctor may recommend you to do a couple more exams to identify the causes:
Scrotal ultrasound: a scrotal ultrasound can help your doctor see if there is a varicocele or other problems in the testicles.
Transrectal ultrasound: this exam allows your doctor to identify any problem with your prostate and look for blockages of the tubes that carry semen.
Hormone exam: a blood test can measure the level and the ability of testosterone or other hormones.
Testicular biopsy: this exam shows sperm production, delivery, problems or blockages.
Genetic tests: genetics can be one of the causes of male infertility. So, genetic tests help to diagnose various congenital or inherited syndromes.
Male Infertility Treatment
Regardless of the infertility cause, there is a treatment for male infertility. It is always recommended to analyze the female partner, just in case of both sides infertility. Nevertheless, some male infertility treatments include:
Medication: some medicines help to increase the number of sperm cells. Often, it is based on hormone therapy. This method is also used to treat infections that can affect fertility.
- Stop smoking;
- Stop drinking alcohol;
- Stop using drugs;
- Keep a healthy body with exercise and a healthy diet.
Surgeries: Sperm Retrieval, Vasoepididymostomy, or Vasectomy reversal are examples of surgeries to treat causes of male infertility. For instance, it is possible to treat a varicocele surgically or to collect sperm directly from the testicles using sperm retrieval.
Assisted reproductive technology (ART): this treatment obtains sperm through ejaculation or surgical extraction and is followed up with the insertion of the discharge into the female genital through:
- In vitro fertilization;
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
These reproduction techniques allow a single spermatozoon to be injected into an egg.
Coping with male infertility
Dealing with infertility can be challenging. Although it is a typical issue, many people can’t accept or think of solutions, as we saw above. It is a tough phase for a couple, and both must be understanding, patient and loving towards their partner. If you feel you need extra help, perhaps professional help, seek them out. It is super important that the couple keeps together, stable and looks for solutions throughout this phase.
If you are seeking professional help, you can reach out to me. I’ll be pleased to help you manage your negative thoughts or feelings.