One third of all infertility cases have been linked solely to issues with the male partner. Male infertility is a condition where the male in a relationship affects the child bearing ability of the woman.
When couples are not able to conceive even after having unprotected sex over a long period of time, it is important that men get screened for fertility as well as women.
Male fertility may be impaired by a number of factors. These include:
Sperm production problems: The quality and quantity of sperm are the key factors to male fertility. Any defect such as immature sperm or low sperm count (oligospermia) can lead to infertility
Varicoceles: This is a condition characterised by swelling of the veins that supply the testicle
Backward ejaculation of semen
Blockage of the sperm carrying ducts
Development of sperm antibodies (auto-immune disorder)
Infections/tumours of the male reproductive system
Genetics (chromosomal disorders)
Use of certain medications such as steroids
Excessive radiation exposure affects the sperm production
Work related causes (e.g. laptop use elevates the temperature of the testes leading to low sperm production)
Smoking and alcohol abuse
A diagnosis is often made by your doctor based on the following:
Complete physical examination
Semen analysis: This is a laboratory test carried out to assess the sperm count and quality. The test sample is obtained by ejaculating into a sterile bottle
Transrectal ultrasound of the prostate: It is an investigation carried out to evaluate the prostate gland and detect any obstruction of the ducts that transport the sperm
Scrotal ultrasound: This is an imaging test to diagnose abnormalities of the scrotum or testicles
Testicular biopsy: A small piece of tissue is removed from the testicle using a sterile needle and sent for evaluation under a microscope to help determine the cause of infertility
Ant-sperm antibody tests to trace the antibodies that attack sperm
With the advancements in medical technology, it is now possible to treat this condition. Treatment options include:
Surgery: Surgery is indicated in cases of varicocele and obstruction of the sperm duct to improve the sperm motion
Medications: Antibiotics are prescribed to treat infections of the reproductive system
Treatment for sexual problems: Counselling about sex and relationships can help boost fertility levels
Male hormone replacement therapy may be used to treat hormonal deficiency
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART): These are revolutionary treatment procedures that can help couples with infertility problems to conceive. Some of them include in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) methods
Lifestyle modification: These include changing habits such as not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and using stress reduction techniques
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As a male patient undergoing fertility treatment it can be an emotional and daunting time with the focus often being on the female partner and how she is feeling.