On your way through fertility care, it’s possible to forget that men are half the equation. 50% of infertility cases are male factors. This is unfortunate because male infertility testing is a simple, low-cost, non-surgical procedure. Most importantly, most causes can be successfully treated
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive a child within one year of unprotected intercourse. What is not always considered is that in 50% of cases, men play an important role in the infertility of the couple. Another way to look at this is that 7% of men suffer from infertility. Disease, injury, age, chronic health problems, lifestyle choices, and other factors can contribute to male infertility.
Male infertility contributes to infertility in about 50% of cases.
Male fertility is a complex process. To get your partner pregnant, the following should occur:
Problems with male fertility can occur by a number of health issues. Some of these include:
—Varicocele: Varicocele is a swelling in the veins that drain the testicle. It is the most common cause of male infertility. Although the exact cause of Varicocele infertility is unknown, it may be associated with abnormal temperature regulation in the testis. Varicocele leads to reduced sperm quality.
Treating Varicocele by improving sperm count and function, and may improve outcomes when using assisted reproductive techniques such as in vitro fertilization.
–infection: Some infections can interfere with sperm production or sperm health or can cause scarring that prevents sperm from passing. These include inflammation of the epididymis (inflammation of the epididymis) or testicles (orchitis) and some sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea or HIV. Although some infection may result in permanent damage to the testicles, it is often possible to retrieve sperm.
–Ejaculation problems: retrogradeejaculation occurs when the semen enters the bladder during orgasm rather than emerging out of the tip of the penis. Various health conditions can lead to retrograde ejaculation, including diabetes, spinal injuries, medications, bladder and prostate surgery, or urethra.
Some men who suffer from spinal cord injuries or some diseases cannot ejaculate semen, although they still produce sperm. Often in these cases it is still possible to retrieve sperm for use in assisted reproduction techniques.
–Antibodies that attack sperm: Sperm antibodies are immune system cells that mistakenly identify sperm as harmful invaders and attempt to eliminate them.
— Tumors: Cancer and non-malignant tumors can affect the male genitals directly, through the glands that release reproductive hormones, such as the pituitary gland, or through unknown causes. In some cases, surgery, radiation or chemotherapy to treat tumors can affect male fertility.
–Undescended testicles: In some males, during the development of the fetus, one or both testicles fail to descend from the abdomen to the sac that usually contains testicles (scrotum). Decreased fertility is more likely in men who had this condition.
–Hormonal imbalances: Infertility can result from disorders in the testicles themselves or malfunction affecting other hormonal systems including the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, thyroid gland and adrenal gland. Low testosterone (male hypotgonadism) and other hormonal problems have a number of potential underlying causes.
–Defects of tubules that carry sperm: Many different tubes carry sperm. They can be blocked for various reasons, including accidental injury from surgery, previous infection, trauma or abnormal development, such as cystic fibrosis or similar inherited conditions.
The blockage can occur at any level, including inside within testicle, in the tubes that drain the testicle, in the epididymis, in the vas deferens, near the ejaculatory ducts or in the urethra.
–Chromosomal defects: Genetic disorders such as Kleinfelter syndrome – where the male is born with two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome (instead of one X and Y) – cause abnormal growth of the male reproductive organs. Other hereditary syndromes related to infertility include cystic fibrosis, Kallmann’s syndrome and kartagener’s syndrome.
–Problems with sexual intercourse: These problems can include problems maintaining an erection sufficient for sex, premature ejaculation, painful intercourse, anatomical abnormalities such as an urethral opening beneath the penis (hypospadias), psychological problems or a relationship problems that interferes with sex.
–Celiac disease: A digestive disorder caused by sensitivity to gluten, celiac disorders can cause infertility in males. Fertility may improve after adopting a gluten-free diet.
–Previous surgical procedures: Some surgeries may prevent you from having sperm in your ejaculate, including vasectomy, repair of the inguinal hernia, scrotal or testicular surgery, prostate surgery, and large abdominal surgeries performed for testicular. In most cases, the surgery can either be performed to reverse this blockage or to recover the sperm directly from the epididymis and testicles.