What is Male Infertility and how can we test for it?

Infertility refers to the inability to achieve a pregnancy after a year or more of regular, unprotected intercourse and, male causes can range from hormonal imbalances affecting sperm production to physical problems preventing the delivery of sperm into the female reproductive system.

One of the key elements often associated with male infertility is semen quality. This refers to the sperm count, sperm motility (the sperm’s ability to move), and sperm morphology (the shape and size of the sperm). A combination of these factors can significantly reduce the chances of fertilization.

Semen analysis is the primary test used to evaluate male fertility. A semen sample is analyzed under a microscope. The results provide essential data that can identify potential areas of concern, such as low sperm count, abnormal sperm shape, or reduced motility.

Today, numerous male fertility tests may be bought over the counter and performed at home. Home fertility tests for men usually only look at sperm motility which is only one parameter of the semen analysis.

For an accurate result, book an appointment with a fertility clinic to get a lab-tested semen analysis.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

Unlike female infertility, male infertility usually does not have any obvious signs. However, certain symptoms could indicate a problem. These include:

  • Loss of libido
  • Difficulty maintaining an erection
  • Pain, swelling and lumps in the testicle area

It’s important to say that these symptoms alone are not final indicators of male infertility. At the same time, the lack of these symptoms does not necessarily mean a man is fertile. There are many misconceptions about male infertility. One of the most common is the belief that if a man can ejaculate, he is fertile. This is far from the truth, unfortunately. Infertility is a complex issue that can occur despite the ability to produce ejaculate.

Causes and Risk Factors for male infertility

The causes of male infertility can be multiple:

  • Physical- any blockage that prevents the passage of sperm through the reproductive system. The cause for this might be: infections, injuries or congenital defects.
  • Hormonal Imbalances: It is not a secret anymore that hormonal balance is critical for fertility, and that applies to both women and men. Any disruptions in hormone production from the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, or testes can negatively impact sperm production and limit reproductive capacity.
  • Environmental and Lifestyle Factors are known to significantly impact fertility. These include exposure to toxins, overheating of the testicles, substance abuse, smoking, excess drinking, stress, obesity and even tight clothing that can raise the testicle temperature.

Genetic Issues may sometimes cause male fertility issues. Genetic testing might be a good idea for men who know genetic conditions exist in their family history

Treating Male infertility

The treatment for male infertility should always take into account the factors causing it. The good news is that, unlike the ovarian reserve that a woman is born with, sperm replenishes constantly, and some parameters may see significant improvement over time, with a bit of effort.

Lifestyle changes are known to make an impact on sperm quality, therefore, it’s always good to try and help wherever you can.

What can you do?

  • Healthy diet rich in antioxidants
  • Regular exercise even if it’s just walking. It might also help lose weight, if this is needed
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
  • Quit smoking
  • Hydrate! Drinking water helps with semen viscosity and it is essential in high temperatures.
  • Multivitamins might help, especially Zinc, Vitamin C, CoQ10

Medical Treatments might help where lifestyle changes can’t. If the problem is hormonal, medication prescribed by a certified doctor may solve the imbalance. For mechanical and congenital issues, surgery might be the only option, while antibiotics may be prescribed to treat infections.

Assisted Reproductive Techniques are an effective option.

Depending on the severity of male infertility, the reproductive specialist may suggest one of the two options:

  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)- is a non-invasive procedure that involves placing the sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization, thus overcoming the barrier of the vaginal environment and the cervix, and helping move the sperm closer to the egg.
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) where egg and sperm are helped to meet outside the body, and the embryo is then transferred to the uterus. In case of severe male factor, other more advanced techniques help inject an individual sperm directly into the egg (ICSI) to increase fertilization rates.

Coping with Male Infertility

Infertility can be a challenging emotional rollercoaster for many couples. Because of the way society looks at men, because of the stigma associated with male fertility and the taboos that surround it, infertility may be a very heavy burden on a man’s shoulders.

Openly talking about it, both with the spouse and with the healthcare providers, and seeking support outside of the couple can provide much-needed emotional support, practical advice and a sense of empowerment.

Male infertility can be an incredibly stressful and isolating experience, which is why it is essential to address the mental and emotional well-being of both partners.

At ART Fertility Centers we provide you with all the education, support and medical guidance you need.

Book your appointment now, and let us be part of your journey!