Male Infertility

What is male infertility?

Male infertility is a common reproductive problem affecting men, where the male is unable to contribute to a pregnancy. When couples are not able to conceiveeven after having unprotected sex for over a year, it is important for both partners to be examined by their physician. Up to 1 out of 3 infertility cases are linked partly to issues with the male partner.

What are the causes of male infertility?

Male fertility may be impaired by a number of factors. These include:

  • Sperm production problems: The quality and quantity of sperm are the key factors to male fertility. Any defect such as immature sperm or low sperm count (oligospermia) can lead to infertility.
  • Varicoceles: swelling of the veins that supply the testicle.
  • Backward ejaculation of the sperm
  • Blockage of the sperm carrying ducts
  • Development of sperm antibodies (auto-immune disorder)
  • Hormonal/stress problems
  • Infections/tumours of the male reproductive system
  • Genetics (chromosomal disorders)
  • Sexual problems
  • Use of certain medications such as steroids
  • Excessive radiation exposure
  • Work-related causes such as excessive use of the laptop,which elevates the temperature of the testes, leading to low sperm production
  • Smoking and alcohol abuse

How is male infertility diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnoses male infertility based on the following:

  • Medical history
  • Complete physical examination
  • Semen analysis:Laboratory test carried out to assess sperm count and quality
  • Transrectal ultrasound of the prostate: Investigation carried out to evaluate the prostate gland and detect any obstruction of the ducts that transport the sperm
  • Scrotal ultrasound: Imaging test to diagnose abnormalities of the scrotum or testicles
  • Testicular biopsy: A small piece of tissue is removed from the testicle using a sterile needle and sent for evaluation under a microscope to help determine the cause of infertility.
  • Anti-sperm antibody tests to trace the antibodies that attack sperm

How can male infertility be treated?

  • Surgery is indicated in cases of varicocele and obstruction of the sperm duct to improve the sperm motion.
  • Antibiotics are prescribed to treat infections of the reproductive system.
  • Counselling about sex and relationships can help boost fertility levels.
  • Male hormone replacement therapy may be used to treat hormonal deficiency.
  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART) uses artificial methods of in vitro fertilization (IVF) andintracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)to assist in the natural process of fertilization.
  • Lifestyle modification such as not smoking, limiting alcohol intake and using stress reduction techniques.

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