Male infertility issues are responsible for about one-third of infertility problems among couples. Male infertility can range from a decrease in sperm production to a physical blockage that prevents sperm from reaching its destination. The CRE expert team of fertility specialists treat male infertility and evaluates each patient and offers a treatment plan based on each patient’s needs.
A few of the most common issues responsible for male infertility are listed below:
Infection and Environmental factors
Some cases of male infertility are due to temporary factors, such as infections and sexually transmitted diseases, exposure to harmful substances, smoking, heavy alcohol use, and drug use. Treating the underlying infection and/or making specific lifestyle changes can often reverse this type of infertility.
Surgery or vasectomy
Men who have undergone a vasectomy or who have had surgery of the testicles may be unable to help their partner conceive naturally. Patients who have undergone a vasectomy but would like to have children may have a vasectomy reversal.
Rare genetic conditions, such as Klinefelter’s or Young’s syndrome can result in male infertility. Often, these patients are identified through a family history or a semen analysis showing a complete lack of sperm. Some of these conditions can be overcome using assisted reproductive technologies, but some cannot.
While not as common, hormonal imbalances in men can cause issues with sperm production, seminal fluid, and even a decrease in sex drive. Treatment may involve medication, treatment for an underlying condition, or advanced reproductive technology.
Varicocele, a large varicose vein in the scrotum, can cause overheating of the testicles. This can affect sperm production, morphology, and motility, but can often be remedied with surgery.
Epididymal or Vas Deferens Defect
Defects in the Epididymal or Vas Deferens can prevent sperm cells from being carried out of the testes due to the tubes being blocked, malformed, or absent. A blockage can be corrected surgically, but if the tube is absent or irreparable, it may still be possible to conceive so long as healthy sperm are still being produced.
Direct injury (testicular or pelvic trauma, heat, irradiation, etc.)
Any injury to the testicles or pelvic region can result in the lack of sperm production or the production of poor quality sperm.
What are the signs of infertility in males?
Besides for failure to conceive after 12 months of unprotected intercourse, there may be no specific signs for male infertility. Male Infertility can sometimes be associated with abnormal veins in the testicular area (varicocele). Because optimal sperm production occurs at room temperature, men with varicoceles can have low sperm quality or quantity. Varicoceles can cause testicular pain. Other causes of male infertility like a congenital duct obstruction or chromosomal anomalies would be silent. Genital infections can cause penile discharges and burning on urination.
What can cause infertility in a man?
Problems with male fertility can be caused by a number of health issues. Varicoceles, chromosomal abnormalities, infections, sexual issues (e.g. erectile dysfunction), sperm antibodies, tumors and testosterone treatments can cause male factor infertility. Male infertility can also be a sign of a chronic health condition such as diabetes or a side effect of a chronic medication.
Can male infertility be treated?
Most causes of male factor infertility can be fixed or worked around. Hormonal and obstructive issues can often be fixed by a Urologist with specific training in male fertility. When the male factor is mild, fallopian tubes are patent (Normal HSG) and ovulation predictable, we recommend an insemination of sperm in the uterus (IUI) around ovulation. In mild cases, we may also recommend a 6 week course of anti-oxidants which helps with sperm quality. In severe cases, IVF is needed to inject a hand-picked healthy sperm into each egg in the IVF Laboratory (ICSI). In the most sever of cases, a donor sperm can be used if the infertile male simply has no sperm to be found.
Can a man with low sperm impregnate a woman?
Natural conception can still occur, even with very low sperm counts. Men with very low sperm counts often have children only to discover they have an issue when they try to conceive their second child.