More than 15 percent of couples are infertile. This means they aren’t able to conceive a child even though they have had frequent unprotected sexual intercourse for a year or longer. In up to half of these couples, male infertility plays a role.
Male infertility is due to low sperm production, abnormal sperm function or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm. Illnesses, injuries, chronic health problems, lifestyle choices and other factors can play a role in causing male infertility. Not being able to conceive a child can be stressful and frustrating, but a number of male infertility treatments are available.
Problems with male fertility can be caused by a number of health issues and medical treatments. Some of which include:
- A swelling of the veins that drains the testicles called VARICOCELE.
- Ejaculation issues
- Antibodies that attack sperm
- Undescended testicles
- Hormonal imbalance
- Defects of tubules that transport sperm
- Chromosome defects
- Problems with sexual intercourse
- Celiac disease
- Certain medications
- Prior surgeries.
Environmental causes include:
- Industrial chemicals
- Heavy metal exposure
- Radiation or x-rays
- Overheating the testicles
Lifestyle and other causes:
- Illicit drug use
- Alcohol use
- Tobacco smoking
- Emotional stress
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The main sign of male infertility is the inability to conceive a child. There may be no other obvious signs or symptoms. In some cases however, an underlying problem such as inherited disorder, hormonal imbalance, dilated veins around the testicle, or a condition that blocks the passage of sperm gives off signs and symptoms.
Although most men with male infertility do not notice symptoms other than their inability to conceive a child, signs and symptoms associated with this condition include:
- Problems with sexual function
- Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicle area
- Recurrent respiratory infections
- Inability to smell
- Abnormal breast growth
- Decreased facial or body hair or other signs of chromosomal or hormonal abnormality
- Having a lower than normal sperm count (fewer than 15million sperm per millilitre of semen or a total sperm count of less than 39million per ejaculate).
Often, an exact cause of infertility can’t be identified. Even if an exact cause isn’t clear, your doctor might be able to recommend treatments or procedures that will result in conception.
In cases of infertility, the female partner is also recommended to be checked. This can help to determine if she will require any specific treatments or if proceeding with assisted reproductive techniques is appropriate. Treatments include:
- Treating infections
- Treatment for sexual intercourse problems
- Hormone treatments and medications
- Assisted reproductive technology (ART), which involves obtaining sperm through normal ejaculation, surgical extraction or from donors. The sperm is then inserted into the female genital tract, or used to perform in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection.