Understanding Male Infertility
If you and your partner have had trouble getting pregnant, it's natural to feel concerned. Many couples don't expect fertility problems when they decide to have a baby. And wondering if you're infertile can cause added stress and worry.
The good news is, countless men who faced infertility have been treated for their underlying problem. Many eventually father children.
At Generations Fertility Care, nothing gives us greater joy than helping couples start or expand their families - and sometimes that means helping the male partner overcome infertility. We specialize in all aspects of male infertility, including testing and medical or surgical treatment. Our team includes the region's only fellowship-trained male infertility specialist.
Dr. Dan Williams explains in this video why it's important for the man to be evaluated when a couple is having challenges getting pregnant.
What is infertility?
Up to 15 percent of couples experience infertility, or the inability to conceive a child. Among these couples, up to half cannot conceive due to a problem with the man's fertility.
If you and your partner have tried to get pregnant for more than a year - or if you are a woman over 35 who has tried for more than six months - you may want to consider seeing a doctor for fertility testing.
Causes of Male Infertility
Male infertility is usually caused by problems with sperm production or delivery. For example, your body may not produce enough sperm, or the sperm it produces aren't healthy or don't function properly. Sometimes the tubes inside your body that carry sperm are blocked, or semen travels the wrong way during ejaculation.
Examples of medical conditions that can affect sperm and fertility include:
- Low sperm count (oligospermia)
- A complete absence of sperm (azoospermia)
- Sperm that are oddly shaped or not fully grown
- Sperm that cannot travel far or fast enough to fertilize an egg
- Varicocele, or swollen veins in your scrotum, cause low sperm production and poor sperm quality
- Erectile dysfunction, or the inability to maintain an erection during sexual intercourse
- Ejaculatory dysfunction, including early, delayed or retrograde ejaculation
- Certain infections, including sexually transmitted diseases, can interfere with sperm production or damage the tubes that carry sperm
Other causes of male infertility include:
- Hormone imbalance, including low testosterone (hypogonadism)
- Developmental problems, including undescended testicles (cryptorchidism)
- Having had a vasectomy (male sterilization surgery)
- Side effects from other types of surgery, such as prostate or testicular surgery
- Exposure to environmental toxins, such as radiation, heavy metals or chemicals
Sometimes men are found to be infertile with no known cause. This is called unexplained infertility. Even if we're unable to identify the cause of your fertility challenges, we may be able to recommend a treatment option that will improve your chances of conceiving.
Male Infertility Risk Factors
Certain risk factors are linked to male infertility. These include:
- Tobacco use
- Excessive alcohol use
- Drug abuse
- Previous injury to the scrotum or testicles
- Frequently overheating the testicles (for example, sitting in hot tubs or wearing tight clothing)
- Having had chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer. Learn more about persevering fertility before going through cancer treatment.
Avoiding these factors may help decrease your risk of infertility. And while lifestyle changes alone cannot cure an existing fertility problem, making adjustments such as losing weight and quitting smoking may improve your overall health and fertility. Learn more about lifestyle changes that can help boost fertility
Testing for Male Infertility
If your doctor suspects you have a fertility problem, he or she will make sure you receive a thorough evaluation. Our goal is to identify whether your condition can be corrected, and determine the best treatment or assisted reproductive options.
Your evaluation will include some of the following tests and procedures:
- A physical examination by our male infertility specialist
- A comprehensive health history. This will help us learn more about your medical history, sexual history, lifestyle choices, exposure to harmful environmental toxins and whether you've previously had children
- A semen analysis to measure the quality and quantity of sperm your body is producing
- Blood hormone testing to assess your levels of testosterone and other hormones
- Screening for sperm DNA fragmentation, which refers to broken DNA strands within individual sperm
- Ultrasound imaging to take pictures of your internal reproductive organs. An ultrasound can detect problems such as varicocele or blocked tubes.
- Genetic testing to see if you have an inherited medical condition that can impact fertility
Male Infertility Treatments
Infertility is not a word anyone wants to hear. But at Generations Fertility Care, our mission is to identify your fertility challenge and help you understand your options. Our team has helped hundreds of men overcome infertility and become parents.
We offer the full spectrum of medical and surgical treatments for male infertility, including:
- Microsurgical varicocelectomy, an outpatient procedure that repairs the swollen veins known as varicocele
- Vasectomy reversal, as the name implies, is a procedure designed to undo a previous vasectomy surgery
- Transurethral resection of the ejaculatory duct (TURED), a procedure to repair blocked ejaculatory ducts
- Sperm retrieval, also known as sperm extraction, refers to several procedures used to remove sperm from your body. We offer the following sperm retrieval procedures:
- Testicular sperm extraction/aspiration (TESE/TESA)
- Microscopic epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA)
- Percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA)
- Electroejaculation (EEJ)
Our male fertility specialist will provide more information about your treatment options, including whether anesthesia is recommended.
If you have questions about infertility or are ready to schedule an initial appointment with our male infertility specialist, please call (608) 824-6160 or complete our online form.