September 21, 2022
What is Infertility?
The term “male infertility” refers to the inability to naturally conceive a child. For some people, conceiving (becoming pregnant) happens quickly, but for others, it might occasionally take some time. If it doesn’t happen right immediately, try not to worry. However, if you still haven’t been successful in getting pregnant after a year or two of trying, it may be an indication that you, your partner, or perhaps both of you, have reproductive issues. In this case, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor.
The majority of couples—nearly one in seven—are infertile, meaning they haven’t been successful in becoming pregnant despite engaging in frequent, unprotected sexual activity for a year or more. Male infertility may play a partial or whole role in up to half of these couples.
Male infertility may result from low sperm production, defective sperm function, or obstructions that prevent sperm from reaching the uterus. Male infertility can also be caused by a variety of conditions, trauma, long-term health issues, lifestyle decisions, and other things. Male infertility is a condition that can be stressful and distressing, but there are several therapies available.
Symptoms of Male Infertility
Inability to conceive a child is the main symptom of male infertility. There might be no other overt symptoms or indicators. However, in certain circumstances, signs and symptoms are caused by an underlying issue, such as an inherited ailment, hormonal imbalance, dilated veins around the testicle, or a condition that prevents sperm from passing through.
Observable symptoms and signs include:
- Issues with sexual function, such as problems ejaculating or ejaculating little amounts of fluid, decreased sexual desire, or issues keeping an erection (erectile dysfunction).
- Having discomfort, edema, or a bump near the testicles.
- Recurrent respiratory diseases.
- Being unable to smell.
- Abnormal breast development (gynecomastia).
- Hair loss on the face or body, or other chromosomal or hormonal anomalies.
- A sperm count that is below average (fewer than 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen or a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculate).
Types of Male Infertility
Male infertility can take two different forms:
- Primary infertility is when you and your partner do not have children together or from past relationships.
- In secondary infertility, you and your partner may be experiencing secondary infertility although you already had children together or in past partnerships.
Causes of Male Infertility
The causes of male infertility are numerous. Doctors occasionally fail to identify a cause, unfortunately. This is referred to as unexplained infertility sometimes. Following are a few of the typical causes:
The most typical cause of male infertility is sperm quality issues. It’s possible that your sperm aren’t moving as quickly as they should be, you don’t have enough sperm in your semen, and they’re a different form. All three of these issues could be present at once.
It’s possible that your semen contains no sperm at all. Obstructive azoospermia, a disorder where the sperm transport tubes (seminal ducts) from your testicles to your penis are clogged, is typically the cause of this. You may have been born with this condition if they weren’t properly developed when you were a newborn. Obstructive azoospermia can occur as a result of a number of conditions, such as an infection, bladder surgery, or scarring from an inguinal hernia repair procedure.
When you have hypogonadism, your body produces little or no testosterone. Your sperm count, libido, or ability to get an erection and produce ejaculate may be affected by this.
Hypogonadism can be inherited or acquired by sickness or medical procedures like chemotherapy. Additionally, taking some medications like spironolactone (a diuretic or water pill) and cimetidine increases your risk of developing it (an antacid).
Many issues can influence how you ejaculate (release semen).
- In order to have sex, you must be able to maintain an erection for a sufficient amount of time. The inability to achieve or maintain an erection is called erectile dysfunction.
- When you have an orgasm, your semen is ejaculated retrogradely into your bladder rather than out of your body. This condition is called retrograde ejaculation.
- Delayed ejaculation is when you cannot ejaculate into your partner’s vagina. There might be a psychological issue here.
- Anorgasmia is the absence of ejaculatory orgasm. This might be the result of nerve injury, for example, if your penis doesn’t have adequate feeling.
There are additional factors that impact fertility, for example by lowering sperm quality. These factors include consuming alcohol, doing drugs like cocaine and marijuana, and using anabolic steroids, etc.
Treatment for male infertility
Infertility typically has no visible signs other than the inability to become pregnant within a certain time frame or to deliver a living baby.
In assessing a man’s fertility, hormone insufficiency symptoms including increased body fat, decreased muscular mass, and diminished face and body hair are among the things that are looked for. The evaluation also asks about the man’s medical history, including any testicular or penile injuries in the past, current high fevers, and childhood illnesses like the mumps. Physical examinations make it possible to find issues including infections, hernias, and varicocele.
In order to evaluate the condition and calibre of a man’s sperm, a healthcare professional may also request a sample of his semen. Measurement of hormone levels in the blood, testicular biopsy, and genetic testing are examples of additional examinations.
If no underlying cause of the problem has been found, evidence-based treatments that increase fertility may be suggested as a treatment for male infertility. Surgery to rectify or repair anatomical defects or damage to the reproductive organs is one kind of treatment. Other options include medical techniques to transfer sperm to the woman, laboratory egg fertilisation, and employing a third party to donate sperm or eggs and/or carry a baby.
Hormone imbalances and erectile dysfunction are two conditions that can be treated with medication and have an impact on male fertility. Blockages in the tubes that carry sperm can be repaired by surgery. Varicocele can also be repaired with surgery. If alternative therapies fail to restore fertility, assistive reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilisation, may be useful.
A specialised physician typically prescribes infertility treatments. There are several treatment options, therefore it can be useful to read more about infertility treatments. Treatment for the underlying medical issue that’s causing your fertility issues could help.
Your doctor may advise gonadotrophin injections if you have low testosterone levels (hypogonadism) in order to increase your fertility. These cause your body to create sperm and testosterone.
When you ejaculate backwards into your bladder as opposed to through your urethra and out of your body, this condition is known as retrograde ejaculation. To assist you shut the opening to your bladder, your doctor could prescribe medications like pseudoephedrine. If you have difficulties getting an erection, medications like sildenafil (Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®), or alprostadil may be able to help.
Your doctor might recommend a vacuum pump if your infertility issues are brought on by difficulties getting an erection and medications haven’t helped. You put your penis in a tube and pressurize it to let blood flow into it. To maintain your erection, you place a constriction band at the base of your penis, which you take off after 30 minutes.
A blockage in the tubes that carry sperm from your testicles to your penis may require surgery to be removed (obstructive azoospermia). It is occasionally possible to reverse a vasectomy, which is a procedure to stop sperm from entering your semen. You would need to receive private care because the NHS does not pay for this procedure.
Your doctor might advise surgery if you have varicoceles (swollen veins in your scrotum) and there are no other known causes of your infertility. This is not a recommended course of therapy by the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence). However, some study indicates that undergoing surgery could possibly boost your chances of getting pregnant, even if there is insufficient data to support this claim.
Our goal at UDC is to offer the best individualized medical care possible in a state-of-the-art urology clinical setting. Make an appointment with us if you need assistance with male infertility concerns so that we can help you understand your condition and support you on your path to parenthood.