Insight to Male Infertility
Incapability of a male to cause pregnancy in a fertile female is termed as male infertility. Infertility in males may be a resultant of abnormal sperm function; deficiencies in the quality and quantity of the semen; chronic health problems, etc.
There are several risk factors that are linked with male infertility. Some of them are as follows:-
- Use of certain medications or undergoing some medical treatment.
- Use of alcohol and smoking.
- Past or present infections or any medical condition.
- Overheating of the testicles.
- Prior vasectomy (surgery where the tubes that carry sperms from the testicles to the seminal vesicles are cut or tied).
- Prolonged bicycling.
Fertility in males may be impaired due to structural and other defects in the reproductive system; hormonal deficiencies; trauma or illness. Causes of male infertility can also be due to:-
- Defective production and development of sperm.
- Certain infections may interfere with the quality and quantity of sperm.
- Decreased levels of hormones.
- Retrograde ejaculation: Condition when the semen move backwards into the bladder rather than towards the male sexual organ.
- Antibodies attacking sperm.
- Undescended testicles (Failure of testicles to descend from the abdomen into the scrotum).
- Certain diseases affect the release of hormones required for reproduction.
- Few medications can affect production and function of sperm.
- Damage of tubes (sperm ducts) carrying sperms.
- Chromosome defects.
- Conditions linked with sexual intercourse, such as erectile dysfunction (inability to sustain an erection during sexual activity), premature ejaculation, painful sexual intercourse, hypospadias (condition where the opening of the urethra is on the underside of the male sexual organ, instead of at the tip) or psychological problems interfering with sex.
- Disorders of Celia.
- Prior surgeries.
- Overexposure to certain chemicals or heat can diminish sperm production or function.
- Emotional stress.
Male infertility can be diagnosed by:–
- Detailed general physical examination and medical history.
- Semen analysis – Gives a detailed analysis of sperm volume, count, concentration, movement and structure.
- Hormone Levels – Abnormalities in hormones leads to infertility hence, levels of testosterone and other hormones are examined.
- Scrotal ultrasound – Helps in diagnosing the presence of a varicocele or other problems in the testicles and supporting structures.
- Transrectal ultrasound – This ultrasound helps in viewing the condition of certain structures.
- Post-ejaculation urinalysis – Sperm in the urine indicates that the sperms are traveling backward into the bladder instead of out of the male sexual organ during ejaculation.
- Genetic tests – These tests are helpful in diagnosing several congenital or inherited syndromes.
- Testicular biopsy – Helps in finding out the cause of infertility.
- Specialized sperm function tests.
Treatment depends on the cause of infertility. The options are:-
- Surgery – To correct varicocele or remove the obstruction.
- Treating infections.
- Treating sexual intercourse issues.
- Administrating hormone medications.
- Assisted reproductive technology (ART) such as Intrauterine insemination (IUI); In vitro fertilization (IVF); Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and Testicular extraction of sperm (TESE).
Few causes of infertility in men can be prevented. Some of them are as follows:-
- Avoid consumption of cigarettes.
- Limit intake of alcohol.
- Refrain from drugs.
- Prevent stress.
- Keep your weight in control.
- Avoid prolong heating of testicles.