Male Infertility

Around 15 percent of couples are infertile, which means that they can’t conceive a child. In up to half of this figure, male infertility is a major factor.

Male infertility occurs due to low production of sperm, blockages that hinder the delivery of sperm, as well as impaired sperm functionality. There are many factors that can come into play when it comes to male infertility including medical conditions, chronic health problems, injuries, and lifestyle. The inability to conceive a child can be extremely frustrating, fortunately, there are several male infertility treatments available.

Causes and Risk Factors of Male Infertility

In order for a woman to get pregnant, the male partner must produce enough healthy sperm which is functional and can move. Without this, male infertility occurs. Below are the most common causes and risk factors for this condition:

Medical Causes

Health conditions and medical treatments can lead to infertility.

  • Varicoceles – This condition is the most common cause of male infertility, and is characterized by the enlargement of veins in the testicle. While the exact reason is unknown, this health issue may reduce the quality of the sperm due to the abnormal regulation of testicular temperature.
  • Infection – There are some infections such as the inflammation of the epididymis or testicles and sexually transmitted diseases which can affect the production and quality of sperm or lead to scarring that blocks the normal passage of sperm.
  • Problems with ejaculation – Retrograde ejaculation is a condition wherein semen does not come out the tip of the penis during orgasm, but rather enters the bladder. Some of the underlying causes of retrograde ejaculation include diabetes, surgery (prostate, bladder, or urethra), injury on the spine, and certain medications.
  • Antisperm antibodies – Antisperm antibodies are cells produced by the immune system which attack sperm because they mistakenly identify it as harmful invaders.
  • Tumors – Both cancerous and benign tumors can adversely impact fertility by affecting the glands that release hormones related to reproduction, the reproductive organs, or because of unknown causes. Furthermore, the treatments for these tumors such as radiation therapy, surgery, or chemotherapy can also have a negative effect on fertility.
  • Undescended testicle – There are some cases where one or both testicles fail to descend into the scrotum during fetal development, leading to infertility.
  • Hormonal imbalance – Problems with the hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands that lead to hormonal imbalance and male hypogonadism can cause infertility.
  • Problems with the tubules that transport sperm – Blockages in the different tubes that transport sperm because of injury, infections, abnormal development or trauma can lead to impaired reproductive ability.
  • Chromosome defects and genetic syndromes – Medical conditions including Klinefelter’s syndrome, Kallmann’s syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and Kartagener’s syndrome can cause fertility issues.
  • Problems that interfere with sex – Problems with sexual intercourse such as erectile dysfunction, painful intercourse, premature ejaculation and anatomical abnormalities can affect fertility.
  • Celiac disease – This is a digestive disorder which results from sensitivity to gluten.
  • Some medications – Long-term use of anabolic steroid, testosterone replacement therapy, some antifungal medications, cancer treatments, ulcer drugs, among others can negatively affect male fertility.
  • Some surgeries – Surgeries such as vasectomy, testicular surgeries, inguinal hernia repairs, prostate surgeries, among others may lead to impaired sperm production.

Environmental Causes

Aside from medical conditions, overexposure to specific environmental factors can reduce the quality and production of sperm.

  • Industrial chemicals – Overexposure to pesticides, organic solvents, benzenes, herbicides, painting materials, xylene, and toluene can lead to reduced sperm count.
  • Radiation or X-ray – Extended exposure to radiation can lead to decreased production of sperm.
  • Subjecting the testicles to high temperatures – Overheating the testicles can negatively affect the production and function of sperm.
    Exposure to heavy metal- Lead exposure (and other heavy metals) can lead to male infertility.
    H4 Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices

Other causes of infertility in males include:

  • Drug use – Anabolic steroids, marijuana, cocaine or other drugs can result to lower sperm production.
  • Smoking – Smokers may have lower sperm count compared to non-smokers.
  • Alcohol – Excessive drinking can lead to erectile dysfunction, low levels of testosterone and reduced sperm production.
  • Obesity – Being overweight affects sperm and cause hormonal changes that negatively affect fertility.
  • Stress – Because stress can affect certain hormones related to the production of sperm, prolonged stress can lower sperm count.

Causes and Risk Factors of Male Infertility

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Male Infertility- Healthy Lifestyle Tips for Living

In many cases, male infertility can’t be prevented. Yet, it is possible to avoid some of the known environmental and lifestyle risk factors of male infertility. For instance:

  • Don’t smoke and avoid illicit drugs.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol drinking.
  • Manage your weight.
  • Reduce your stress.
  • Do not expose yourself to industrial chemicals or heavy metals.
  • Keep your testicles cool so they don’t overheat.

Coping with Male Infertility

Male infertility can be frustrating and may lead to psychological and relationship problems. Here are the ways by which you can cope and live with male infertility:

  • Set limits and decide on the type of procedures to improve fertility.
  • Consider other alternatives such as adopting a child in order to minimize anxiety when the treatments do not work.
  • Be prepared for the emotional turmoil and talk about your feelings.
  • Join local support groups or go to counseling.
  • Do yoga or meditation to reduce stress related to your condition.
  • Stay in touch with your family, friends and especially your partner.

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When to See a Doctor in Atlanta for Male Infertility

Perhaps you’ve done some research, looking up “male infertility treatment near me,” but you’re not sure when it’s time to seek treatment. Only a qualified specialist can diagnose male infertility. The primary sign of infertility is the inability to conceive a child. In many cases, there are no apparent symptoms. However, in some cases, the underlying causes of male infertility such as hormonal imbalance, varicocele and inherited disorders cause some signs. Below are some of the symptoms that you should look out for:

  • Problems related to sexual function such as reduced libido and erectile dysfunction
  • Pain, inflammation or a lump in the testicles
  • Abnormal growth of the breasts
  • Respiratory infections that are recurring
  • Low sperm count (less than 15 million sperm per ml of semen or less than 39 million sperm per ejaculation)
  • Decreased growth of facial and body hair

When to See a Doctor in Atlanta for Male Infertility

What to Expect When Seeking Treatment for Male Infertility

If your partner can’t conceive a child, it is recommended to have both of you tested because infertility has more than a single cause. Diagnosis typically involves:

  • Assessment of medical history and physical examination.
  • Semen analysis – You will be asked to provide a semen sample, which will be sent to the laboratory to analyze the number of sperm present, as well as the shape and movement of the sperm.

Testing

  • Scrotal ultrasound – Using high-frequency sound waves, images will be produced for your doctor to identify if there is an abnormality in your testicles or there is a varicocele that is causing your infertility.
  • Post-ejaculation urinalysis – If there is sperm present in your urine, this means that your sperm is traveling into your bladder instead of emerging out of your penis when you ejaculate—a condition called retrograde ejaculation.
  • Hormone testing – Through a blood test, the doctor will be able to measure your testosterone levels and other hormones. The hormones produced by your hypothalamus and pituitary gland also affect production of sperm; hence, abnormalities in these systems can lead to infertility.
  • Transrectal ultrasound – The doctor will check your prostate and find out if there are blockages in the tubules that carry your sperm by inserting a small lubricated wand into your rectum.
  • Testicular biopsy – This diagnostic procedure involves getting samples from your testicles with the use of a needle. This test will reveal if you have normal sperm production.

Treatment Methods for Male Infertility

Treatment for male infertility depends on the cause of the condition (if identified, because the exact cause can’t be determined in many cases). Below are the possible treatments:

  • Hormone treatments – Low levels of hormones that are vital for reproduction can be corrected through hormone replacement or medications.
  • Surgery – If your infertility is caused by varicocele or a blockage in the vas deferens, it can be resolved through surgical procedures.
  • Treatments for problems related to sexual intercourse – Erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation can be improved through medication and counseling.
  • Assisted reproductive technologies – This form of treatments involves getting sperm through surgical extraction or normal ejaculation and then inserting it into the female genital tract. It can also be used for in vitro fertilization.

Supplements

Below are a few supplements that may improve the production and quality of sperm:

  • L-arginine
  • L-carnitine
  • Folic acid
  • Beta-carotene
  • Alpha-lipoic acid
  • Biotin
  • Astaxanthin
  • Cobalamin
  • L-acetyl carnitine
  • Anthocyanins
  • Ethylcysteine
  • N-acetyl cysteine
  • Phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors
  • Co-enzyme Q10
  • Inositol
  • Pentoxifylline
  • Glutathione
  • Selenium
  • Lycopene
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamins A, C, D and E

However, before you take such supplements, it is necessary to consult with your physician to discuss the benefits and risks. Vitamins and non-prescription supplements haven’t been approved by the FDA as a cure for male infertility.