Infertility has always been something that women have been burdened with. The truth is that male infertility is more prevalent than thought before, accounting for 20-40% of all infertility cases. Approximately one-third of infertility is attributed by the female partner, one-third attributed by the male partner and one-third is caused by a combination of problems in both partners or, is unexplained. Males and females are considered to have an infertility issue if the couple is unable to conceive naturally with one year of intercourse without the use of birth control.
Fertility and reproduction are often seen as a primal responsibility by society and men themselves. Learning that they are infertile can be devastating. Just like female infertility, male infertility can be determined only after a formal assessment.
Fortunately, many cases of infertility can be reversed or improved by medical intervention. Even in cases where infertility cannot be cured, there are methods like ART that can be used by couples to get pregnant.
To understand male infertility, it is necessary to understand how normal fertility works. Sperms are produced in the testicles and are stored in the epididymis. The sperms are nourished by semen. For every 150 million sperms, half a teaspoon of semen is secreted during the ejaculation. The process of ejaculation depends on a lot of things like the levels of hormones like testosterone and the nervous system.
Causes of infertility in males
Many factors can contribute to male infertility. In most cases, the problems are associated with the low quantity of the sperm, abnormal sperm or in the production and movement of the sperm. The most commonest form of male infertility is Oligospermia (low sperm count).
Other common factors contributing are:
- Varicocele : Varicocele is an enlargement of bulging veins found above the testicles. This is one of the correctable male infertility and can be seen in up to 38% of cases of male infertility.
- Infections : Infections of the testicles like orchitis, infections of the prostate or infections in the body that can lead to high fevers can cause infertility.
- Hormonal issues : Diabetes, problems in thyroid or adrenal gland and prolactin hormone
- Drugs : such as anti-seizure or steroids
- Genetic abnormalities : such as mutations in Y-chromosome, Klinefelter’s XXY syndrome
- Excess Heat : Depends on men’s occupation (firefighters, welders) or habits like tight clothing.
- Exposure to environmental toxins: Pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, lead and mercury.
- Dietary deficiencies: such as Zinc, Vitamin C and folic acid.
- Retrograde ejaculation: In retrograde ejaculation, the ejaculation does not happen through the penis and happens backwards into the bladder. In most cases, the reason for this is a previous surgery or side-effects of medication.
- Absence of vas deferens: this occurs in men when the tube carrying the sperm out of the testis fails to develop properly. This happens due to genetic problems.
- Obstruction : Obstruction or a block can happen anywhere in the pathway from the testicles to the penis.
- Antibodies : The presence of anti-sperm antibodies can cause them to attack the sperm causing infertility.
- In some cases, the reason for infertility is that the sperms are unable to travel through the reproductive system normally.
- Undescended testicle, Chemotherapy, Stress and Obesity are few other commonly noticed conditions causing infertility in men.
Some of the above causes of infertility are reversible through surgery and medicine. The only way to have a solution to the problem is to talk to an experienced fertility specialist. The identification of the true cause of male infertility is as much an art as it is a medical discipline.
At Oasis, our specialists are armed with experience, expertise and the state of art medical equipment to diagnose and treat male infertility. Depending upon your unique case, you may be subjected to physical examination, semen analysis, genetic testing, hormone evaluation or testicular biopsy for further treatment. In cases where infertility cannot be cured, the specialist will talk to you and your partner about the alternative methods of conception such as ART.