Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system. It can affect a man or a woman. For a very long time, the blame for a couple’s infertility fell on the woman. However, in 1 in 7 couples that experience this, studies have shown that male infertility plays a partial role.
Male infertility can be caused by low sperm production or abnormal blockages that restrict the delivery of sperm. Illnesses, injuries, chronic health problems, and lifestyle, among others, contribute to male infertility.
Causes Of Male Infertility
Natural reproduction depends on two things:
- The ability of the man to provide healthy sperm that can fertilize the egg
- Have an erection and ejaculate, so the sperm can reach the egg.
Below are some of the main causes of infertility.
🔶 Sperm Disorders
This is the most common cause of male infertility: making healthy sperm. The sperm could be immature, abnormally shaped, or unable to swim. The man may not make enough or any sperm at all. This is caused by a list of conditions. They include the following:
- Infections or inflammations after puberty, e.g., mumps virus
- Hormones of Pituitary gland Function
- Immune problems in which the man’s antibodies fight his own sperm
- Genetics: cystic fibrosis (CF) or hemochromatosis causes infertility. In males with CF, the bad deferens can be blocked. The vas deferens are the tubes that transport sperm. This condition is called congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens (CBAVD). CBAVD restricts the ejaculation of sperm during sexual intercourse. Hemochromatosis is a hereditary disorder characterized by the excessive absorption and buildup of iron in the tissues, e.g., the testes. Iron buildup in the testes destroys the Leydig cells, which are responsible for producing testosterone. Iron overload also damages the pituitary gland, which regulates hormonal signals in the testes, further causing infertility problems.
- Environmental and lifestyle factors include tobacco and marijuana consumption, heavy alcohol use, steroid use, and exposure to toxins.
🔶 Structural Problems
Anything that blocks the genital tract restricts the flow of semen. It could be genetic, a birth defect, or inflammation from sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STDs or STIs). Other causes include scar tissue from surgery or twisted veins in the scrotum.
🔶 Other Problems
- Erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation
- Liver or kidney disease.
- Treatment of seizure disorders
Who’s At Risk For Male Infertility?
- Men with an injury or torsion of the testicles.
- Inflammation or past genital infections
- Early or late puberty
- Hernia repair
- Exposure to high temperatures
- Undescended testicles.
The most crucial early sign of male infertility is if your female partner has not become pregnant after one year of unprotected sex. Of course, this is not a benchmark; adult males should regularly schedule physicals where their prostates are checked for inflammation as well as STDs and STIs.
How Male Infertility Is Diagnosed?
Typically, your healthcare provider will review your medical history before undertaking any of the following:
- Semen analysis: two semen samples are taken on two separate days. The pH of the semen is taken, as is its uniformity and quantity. He or she will also check the quantity of your sperm, their motility, and their shape.
- Blood tests: these are taken to rule out any hormone problems.
- Other tests: a range of tests are conducted to find the cause of any sperm defect, reproductive problem, or health problem. E.g., imaging like ultrasound is conducted to look at the testicles, blood vessels, and inside the scrotum.
- Testicular biopsy: if semen analysis gives a poor result, Your provider will sample tissue cells from both testes to be viewed under a microscope for further analysis.
Male Infertility Treatments
Surgery is used to fix problems that prevent sperm from being made, matured, or ejaculated. Surgery removes swollen and twisted veins in the scrotum (varicocele). This can sometimes improve sperm quality.
Hormonal treatment may help if the man has a hormonal imbalance. They might be caused by how the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and testes interact.
🔹 Fertility Help
This treatment involves helping your partner get pregnant. They include:
- Artificial insemination.
- IVF, GIFT, and other techniques In vitro fertilization (IVF) and gamete intrafallopian transfer, both work like artificial insemination. Your health provider collects reproductive samples from the male and his partner and fertilizes the eggs with a ton of high-quality sperm. The site for fertilization could be the lab or the woman’s fallopian tube.
- Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection Your health provider injects sperm into your partner’s egg. Fertilization takes place under a microscope and is transported to the woman’s uterus.
In conclusion, male infertility can be caught early. And if the man wishes to bear children with his partner, there are many options available thanks to the advancement of science and technology.