Male infertility accounts for 40-50% of all infertility cases and yet in about 50% of the cases, the cause of infertility is not determined. The reason is hesitation, embarrassment or taboo on getting a man checked for fertility.
The reproductive fertility in males depends upon the number of sperms produced. A normal male produces 15 million to 200 million sperms in 1 ml of semen. Low sperm count which is a common cause of male infertility is when the sperm count drops down below 15 million per millilitre. The lower sperm production may be due to varied reasons such as hormonal imbalance or varicocele. In any case, the underlying cause of infertility can be diagnosed and treated. The couples, however, shy away from getting fertility tested. The sooner you get yourself checked; the greater are your chances of having a baby. Hence, when couples are finding it difficult to conceive, both of them should undergo fertility testing.
Symptoms of Infertility in Men
Lump in the testicular area
Problems with sexual functions
Abnormal breast growth
Lower sperm count
Inability to smell
Causes of Infertility in Men
The advanced lifestyle, hormonal imbalance, and other medical conditions hamper fertility in men. The common causes include:
Infection in the genital area.
Inability to ejaculate.
Antibodies attacking the sperms.
Defects of sperm transport.
Fertility Testing in Men
Male fertility testing is similar to other body checkups and there is nothing to be worried about. Once you visit the doctor, he will first understand your past medical history thoroughly. This gives the doctor an idea of any underlying disease or genetic inherited condition that may affect fertility. The doctor will further analyze the genital area to check for signs of injuries or infections.
As male fertility depends highly on the quality and quantity of semen. Hence, a semen analysis is conducted to determine the concentration, shape, motility, and infections of sperm in the semen. In some cases, the doctor may run the test more than once to accurately determine the condition.
Sperm Function Tests
Some other tests may also be performed to check the motility of sperm after ejaculation. These tests determine the ability of sperm to penetrate the egg and the amount of sperm attaching to the egg.
A scrotal ultrasound is performed to look for the signs of varicocele or other diseased conditions associated with testes.
A blood test is also performed to check the levels of testosterone and other hormones affecting fertility.
In some cases, a small amount of semen may be present in the urine. If present, this accounts for retrograde ejaculation which affects fertility. Hence, this test is performed to confirm the condition.
In most cases, a lower sperm count is because of inherited or genetic conditions. Hence, a genetic blood test is performed to check for signs of genetic abnormalities or other congenital disorders.
Treatments for Male Infertility
Male infertility is common and it can be treated. Based on your condition, the doctor may advise the following treatment procedures:
Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): It is a process in which a single sperm is injected directly into the egg using a fine glass needle. The egg is retrieved from the woman and fertilized with the sperm. This technique is usually recommended when previous fertilization processes such as IVF have failed.
Intracytoplasmic Morphologically Sealed Sperm Injection (IMSI): This is an advanced form of ICSI in which a specially selected sperm is directly injected into a mature egg.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Causes Male Infertility?
Male infertility is caused by several factors such as:
Chronic ailments such as cancer.
Abnormal sperm count.
Abnormal sperm motility.
What is ICSI?
ICSI stands for intracytoplasmic sperm injection. It is an advanced IVF procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into the egg with a fine needle.
What is the success rate of ICSI?
ICSI is successful in fertilizing the egg with sperms. The age of the mother, however, may affect the success rate of the procedure.
What are the risks of ICSI?
With ICSI, the eggs may be damaged while cleaned or injected with the sperm.