Infertility in Men-Everything you need to know

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Infertility treatment in men

Infertility is not just a woman’s problem. Men can be infertile, as well. Men and women both can equally have infertility issues.

Around one-third of infertility cases are attributed to female infertility while men’s problems account for the other third of infertility cases.

The remaining third of cases can occur due to a combination of male and female infertility, or they can have no known cause.

Today we will discuss infertility causes and treatment in men. 

Causes of Infertility in Men

common causes of infertility

Generally, infertility in men is related to the following issues:

  • Structural defects in sperm
  • Count of sperm, or the number of sperm
  • Sperm’s shape
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Movement of the sperm involves both the wiggling movement of the sperm themselves and the transport of sperm via the tubes of the Male reproductive system

There are several risk factors, medical conditions, and medications that will affect fertility.

Risk factors

Risk factors associated with infertility in men involve, but are not restricted to:

  • Ageing 
  • Cigarettes
  • Heavy consumption of alcohol
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Exposure to toxins, like herbicides, pesticides, and other heavy metals

Medical conditions

Few examples of medical conditions that cause male infertility include:

  • Retrograde ejaculation
  • Varicocele, or the swelling of veins near the testicles
  • Testicles that have not descended into the scrotum
  • Having antibodies that harm your sperm and eliminates them
  • A hormonal imbalance, like low testosterone production

Medications and drugs

Various medications and drugs can affect male fertility, involving:

  • Radiation therapy or chemotherapy, used for cancer
  • Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine, Azulfidine EN-Tabs), used for ulcerative colitis (UC) 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or calcium channel blockers, used for high blood pressure
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Anabolic steroids, used for enhanced athletic performance or hormonal issues like delayed puberty
  • Recreational drugs like marijuana and cocaine

Any of these things, or a combination of them, can lead to infertility in men.

Infertility Testing in Men

Men should consult a doctor after a year of trying to conceive or if any of the following apply:

  • Erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • Issues with ejaculation, like delayed ejaculation or retrograde ejaculation
  • Low sex drive
  • Swelling or pain in the genital area
  • Having undergone a surgery in the genital area in the past

Your doctor will take your medical history first. During this period, they will ask regarding your overall health, your sexual history, and factors that may affect your fertility. They will perform a physical examination. In this examination, they will analyze your genitals for any structural abnormalities or lumps.

Your doctor will perform a semen analysis and ask you to provide a sample of semen. This sample will be analyzed in a laboratory to see how many sperm are present. Also, whether the sperm are normally shaped and moving.

Depending on the results of your initial exam and semen analysis, your doctor may perform additional tests as well. These tests may include:

  • Hormone testing
  • Genital ultrasound
  • Genetic testing

Infertility Treatments for Men

Male infertility can be treated in several ways, depending on the cause. Treatment options for male infertility involve medication, surgery and assisted reproductive technology (ART).

Surgery may fix obstructions that are stopping the sperm from being present in the ejaculate. It can correct conditions like varicocele. A specialist can take sperm directly from testicles, after which it can be utilized in ART treatments.

Medications can be used to treat problems like hormonal imbalances. They can be used to treat other conditions that may affect male fertility, including ED or infections that affect sperm count.

ART refers to treatments in which sperm and eggs are handled externally from the body. It can involve treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Sperm for ART treatments are received from ejaculation, extraction from the testicles, or a donor.

Final Thoughts

Being diagnosed with infertility does not mean that your dreams of having a child have ended. It may require some time, but several couples who go through infertility will eventually have a child. Some will have on their own, while others will require medical assistance.

The treatment that is right for you depends on many factors, such as your age, cause of infertility, and your personal preferences. Whether or not a particular infertility treatment results in pregnancy can depend on several factors.

Sometimes, you cannot treat infertility issues. In such conditions, your doctor may suggest that you and your partner consider donor sperms or adoption.

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