25 Apr Male Infertility: Causes, Treatment, What Men Should Know About Their Fertility
Male infertility is an issue that prevents a man from getting his female partner pregnant after a year of regular unprotected intercourse. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) approximately 20 percent of couples’ infertility is due solely to male infertility and it is a contributing factor in another 30-40 percent of cases.
Male infertility attributed to the male partner can be caused by:
- Hormonal issues
- Obstruction (inability of sperm to exit the testicle/epididymis)
- Genetic conditions affecting sperm production or obstruction
- General health and lifestyle issues
- Exposure to steroids like testosterone. Testosterone use impairs sperm production.
- Disease or cancer
- Overexposure to environmental toxins
- Sexual dysfunction such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and infrequent vaginal intercourse.
Extra body weight may reduce male fertility. Studies report conflicting evidence regarding obesity and the quality of men’s sperm. Obesity is a risk factor for Erectile Dysfunction (ED).
Let’s explore the causes, treatment and what men should know about their fertility as pre-conception health for men is important because they have a crucial role in conception.
More Causes of Male Infertility
The most common finding in infertile men is a low sperm count. Other factors include the motility, anatomy, and fragility of the sperm, poor quality of seminal fluid or obstruction in the pathway of ejaculation, low production due to stress, nutritional deficiency, underlying health issues like diabetes, thyroid disease, obesity, advanced heart disease, and cancers. Treatment for cancers like chemotherapy and radiation also affects sperm count.
Treatment of Male Infertility
A reproductive endocrinologist can develop a treatment plan to help couples who cannot conceive due to male infertility following a thorough evaluation and infertility diagnosis.
Sometimes, a consult with a urologist is needed to further investigate and treat the cause of male infertility.
Common fertility treatments for male infertility include:
- Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, quitting smoking and moderating alcohol use to less than 14 drinks per week. Marijuana use has been associated with abnormal sperm counts, morphology and motility.
- IUI involves the collection and washing of sperm, and then injecting the sperm directly into the uterus; often used to treat mild male infertility.
- IVF with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a procedure that involves a single sperm cell being injected into a single egg to create an embryo.
- Sperm aspiration is a surgical procedure that involves a fertility doctor inserting a needle directly into the testicle or epididymis to extract the sperm, which can then be used for IVF.
- Hormone therapy in the setting of deficiency to stimulate production of sperm in the testicle
- Vasectomy reversal to allow sperm to be released in a man’s semen during ejaculation
- Donor sperm may be needed for advanced cases of male infertility in which a man’s sperm is not viable or available; can be used in IUI or IVF.
To learn more about this topic and speak to one of our physicians about fertility treatment, you can request a consultation here.