Previously, we briefly discussed male infertility. For some men, infertility can be a result of sperm traits that are present since birth. For others, lifestyle choices such as excessive alcohol use, smoking, and taking certain medications are the culprit. For others yet, there could be hormone problems or other medical conditions that play a role in infertility. For instance, swollen veins in the scrotum (varicoceles), retrograde ejaculation (a condition in which semen travels backwards into the body), and immunologic infertility (when a man’s antibodies attack his sperm), are all medical conditions that inhibit fertility. Other obstructions can also prevent sperm from reaching the egg.1 For many of the known causes of male infertility, treatments and procedures are available, depending on the cause of infertility.
For men who have hypothalamic or pituitary deficiencies, treatment with human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) may be recommended. Hormone injections are commonly given for a period of up to six months, and blood tests are conducted to monitor testosterone levels. If sperm cells are not detected within the man’s semen within six months, human follicle stimulating hormone (rhFSH) may be added to the injections. 2
The options for treating male infertility are still somewhat limited, but for some anatomical complications (such as varicoceles), surgery can be given in attempt to treat infertility.3 For instance, if the reproductive tract is blocked, it may be possible for a man to undergo surgery to successfully correct the issue. If it cannot be corrected, an additional option to consider might be sperm retrieval, which can be performed through minor medical procedures. Most sperm retrieval procedures are performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. The sperm can be collected through a spring-loaded biopsy device, small incisions, using a thin needle, or through microsurgical techniques.4
With that being said, couples who are experiencing issues with male infertility may be ideal candidates for assisted reproductive techniques (ART). Fertility specialists are equipped to go over the pros, cons, costs, and other detailed information about (ART), and we will discuss some of these options in the final chapter.
Couples who are having difficulties TTC may want to look into the male partner’s fertility either before or at the same time as they look into the female partner’s fertility, as a semen analysis is non-intrusive, versus the more intrusive assessments that the female partner would have to undergo to test fertility. A couple who wants to look into the male partner’s fertility can schedule an appointment with a urologist, who can then go over medical history and perform a physical exam, fertility tests such as a semen analysis, and/or blood tests to evaluate testosterone levels.5 Please keep in mind that depending on insurance providers, some men may need to first receive a referral from their regular doctors before they can schedule an appointment with an urologist.
- Urology Care Foundation. (2015). “What Causes Male Infertility?” Retrieved November 17, 2015, from http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/male-infertility/causes ↩
- Wang, C. and Swerdloff, R. (2012 October) Patient Information: Treatment of male infertility (Beyond the Basics). ↩
- Wang, C.; see above. ↩
- American Accreditation HealthCare Commission. (2008). Infertility in Men In-Depth Report. The New York Times. Retrieved 2015 November 29, 2015 from http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/infertility-in-men/print.html ↩
- Johnson, T. (2015 November 19), “Infertility & Reproduction Health Center.” Retrieved November 17, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/guide/male-fertility-tests?page=2 ↩