What is male infertility and how common is it?
Male infertility is a condition that affects a man's ability to cause a pregnancy. Approximately 15% of all US couples struggle with infertility. Of these couples, 20-30% of the time male factor infertility plays a contributing role.
Sometimes, age can be a driving factor to male infertility as increasing age reduces sperm quality and quantity. Check out our guide on how fertility tests such as sperm analysis can help evaluate and diagnose male infertility.
Male factor infertility is treated with two main specialists: a reproductive endocrinologist and a reproductive urologist. The reproductive endocrinologist evaluates a couple and offers a treatment plan, while the reproductive urologist treats any underlying issue related to male infertility.
If a male factor is suspected or detected, a referral for a reproductive urologist is needed for a thorough evaluation. This may include a physical examination and a complete medical history including past surgeries, medications, lifestyle habits, family history and inherited genetic conditions.
Treatment method depends on the diagnosed condition. Here are some examples of treatment options:
- Medications: Certain medications can treat erectile dysfunction issues or premature ejaculation. Medications or hormone therapy can also help treat hormonal imbalances. In other situations, it may be necessary to stop taking medications that affect male fertility by suppressing the production of sperm.
- Varicocele repair: Sperm production can be decreased due to an abnormality of a vein in the scrotum. Surgical repair may be indicated.
- Surgery for obstructive blockages: Sometimes, blockages in the epididymis or vas deferens may be identified that impairs sperm production. A surgery may help bypass the blockage.
- Testicular biopsy: If the cause of no sperm production cannot be treated with hormone therapy, medications, or surgery, a testicular biopsy can be performed to obtain sperm from the testicles. In this case, IVF (in-vitro fertilization) and ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) will be indicated during the process to create embryos.
- Fertility preservation: Cryopreserving sperm is a way to preserve fertility for patients prior to undergoing cancer treatments or for individuals planning on building their family at a later time.
- Lifestyle choices: Healthy lifestyle can have a great impact on men’s fertility. Recommendations include moderate exercise to improve semen parameters, weight loss, quitting smoking and illicit drug use, limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and use of sperm-safe lubricants during intercourse.
Treating male factor infertility can sometimes take two to three months so an early evaluation can help you start recommended treatments early and increase your chances of conception. In some cases, male infertility can’t be treated and the physician may suggest using donor sperm or adoption as options to help build a family.
If you are planning on starting or growing your family, check out our expert guides on all things genetics and fertility. Today, advanced genetic screening is now available to couples who want their child to have the best shot of a healthy life. Explore how Orchid helps you conceive with confidence.