Infertility has been thought of as the woman’s problem. But with changing times, it turns out that men are equally infertile as women. About 1/3rd of every three cases are because of the man only. So, infertility is defined in clinical terms as the inability for men and women to achieve pregnancy even after 1 year of trying without using any birth controls. Studies show that after a year of unprotected sex, about 15 percent of couples are not able to conceive, and after 2 years, 10 percent still have problems.
A lot of medical conditions and various factors contribute to fertility problems and a particular case may have a single reason, several reasons or no identifiable reason at all. In all, one-third of infertility cases are due to male reproductive problems, one third by female reproductive issues and the other one third by both male and female issues or by some unknown reasons.
Causes of infertility in men
The most common problem that results in men’s infertility are the issues that affect how testicles function. Other issues are hormonal imbalances or blockage in male reproductive organs. In around 50 percent of the cases, the cause of infertility in men cannot be known.
But the major causes of infertility for men are:
- Problem with the sperm-like low sperm count
- Hormonal issues
- Obstruction to the passage of sperm
- Functional issues like impotence
Also, it is important to note that a complete lack of sperm takes place in around 10 to 15 percent of men who are infertile. The blockage of sperm movement or hormonal imbalance can cause low sperm count too. In some infertility cases, a man produces fewer sperms than the normal amount. The most common cause of this type of problem is varicocele, which is the enlarged vein in the testicle. Varicocele is there in around 40 percent of men who have infertility issues.
But unfortunately, some men need to cope up with the fact that nothing can be done in case of some infertility reasons. For others, advances in medical science and infertility treatments, help is available.
Any of the following may cause low sperm count or abnormal sperm-
- Hormonal issues
- Genetic problems
- Medications like anti-seizure or anabolic steroids
- Infections in testicles, prostate or anywhere else in the body
- Undescended testicles
- Varicocele- which is the abnormal collecting of veins above testicles
In many cases, the problems can be solved or reversed but other times, they simply can’t.
Investigating infertility needs tests for men and women both. But diagnosing infertility in men may include:
- Blood tests to see the hormonal levels
- Physical exam like medical history etc
- Testicular biopsy where a needle and microscope are used to see the network of tubes in the testicles
- Semen analysis where a sample of man’s semen is checked in a lab and seen for abnormalities or presence of any antibodies
- Ultrasound scans for taking pictures of reproductive organs like the prostate gland
What are the male infertility treatment options?
The ultimate aim of any male infertility treatment is to achieve a successful pregnancy. Ideally, the cause of infertility is not reversible and conception can be from natural sex only. Here are some common infertility treatments:
- Repair of varicocele with surgery- to block the abnormal veins. This results in considerable improvement in fertility rate.
- Obstruction in sperm transport plumbing may be corrected surgically in some cases.
- Hormonal issues can be treated with surgery or medicine in some cases.
The high tech and advanced male infertility treatments provide the sperm an artificial boost in order to get into the egg. Artificial reproductive treatments or ARTs have actually made conception possible for almost every man even with low or abnormal sperm count.
So even when things may look bleak, the specialists have hope for the couples. Rather than giving it up, losing all hopes, it is best advised to keep trying. It has been found that as many as 25 to 25 percent of the infertile couples will eventually have a child without needing any expensive treatment. Good luck and have a positive outlook towards infertility; it will pay for sure.