Infertility challenges can leave you feeling frustrated, beat down, and exhausted. You’ve imagined the family of your dreams for quite some time. Yet, it hasn’t been the journey you thought it would be – there’s hope.
At ELITE IVF, we’re here to help you overcome these challenges and finally have the baby you’ve always wanted. In approximately one-third of couples with infertility issues, male factor infertility plays a part. The good news is that there are plenty of treatment options available. In this article, we’ll outline what male factor infertility is, how it’s diagnosed, and how it’s managed or treated.
What is Male Factor Infertility?
Infertility in men is when the sperm of the intended father is unable to fertilize the eggs of his female partner, so pregnancy can’t take place. In this case, the female partner is ovulating normally and has healthy and open fallopian tubes.
Usually, there aren’t any obvious indications of male infertility, other than difficulty conceiving after a year of unprotected intercourse. However, less common signs and symptoms may include:
- Recurring respiratory infections
- Sexual dysfunction, such as decreased libido, problems with ejaculation, or erectile dysfunction
- Inflammation and pain in the testicular area
- Hormonal abnormalities
- A reduced sperm count (less than 15 million sperm/millilitre)
Infertility in men may happen due to various causes. There may be a low sperm count, which significantly reduces the chances of a sperm reaching the egg. There may be abnormal or a low number of moving sperm(known as sperm motility), or there may be obstruction issues.
Obstruction issues prevent the sperm from being transported through the semen. These problems may occur due to previous surgery, infection, or abnormalities present at birth.
In addition, these causes may happen due to medical conditions, lifestyle factors, or even environmental factors. Although most types of male infertility are not preventable, by sticking to a healthy lifestyle, such as not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding activities where prolonged heat is applied to the testicles, you or your partner can reduce the chances of having fertility challenges.
Diagnosing Male Factor Infertility
Typically, it takes proper testing to determine the exact cause of infertility in a couple. Diagnosing infertility in men begins with a physical exam. This involves an examination of the reproductive area, as well as questions relating to health, medical history, and sexual development and habits.
After you or your partner have provided a semen sample, a semen analysis is then conducted in a lab. This helps fertility experts to determine if there are any sperm abnormalities or a low sperm count present. For sperm count analysis, multiple semen samples may be required for accuracy.
Depending on the results, additional testing may be recommended. These further tests can include:
- Hormone Testing – Hormones have a significant role in sexual development and function, as well as sperm production. Usually, a blood test is able to determine whether normal levels of bioavailable testosterone and other hormones are present.
- Scrotal and Transrectal Ultrasound – If your specialist suspects obstructions or other structural issues, they may perform a scrotal ultrasound. An ultrasound uses sound waves, which then create an image where the technician can view the internal structures. A transrectal ultrasound may also be performed to examine the prostate.
- Genetic Testing – Your doctor may also perform blood tests to eliminate or determine if genetic abnormalities play a role.
- Urinalysis – A urinalysis detects if sperm is present in the urine. If this is the case, retrograde ejaculation may be happening. This is where the sperm goes into the bladder as opposed to out of the penis during ejaculation.
- Testicular Biopsy – A testicular biopsy takes samples from the testicle to determine if there is normal sperm production. This is usually done when other tests have indicated sperm abnormalities.
Male Infertility Treatment
Once your reproductive endocrinology team has diagnosed you or your partner’s male infertility issue, they can begin mapping out a treatment plan. There are many options, which include:
- Medication or counselling to support sexual intercourse – This may help combat premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction.
- Hormonal therapy – Hormone replacement medication or other medications can help rebalance hormones to help you and your partner achieve pregnancy. .
- Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) – Sperm is obtained from the male partner through ejaculation or surgery, or from a donor. This sperm is then used for IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) treatment or similar methods.
- Surgery – If there is an obstruction, this is corrected through surgery. Vasectomies are also usually reversible through surgical methods.
Throughout your treatment, it’s important to also manage emotions.. Ensure you and your partner talk to each other and set boundaries regarding finances and procedures. Finding counselling groups to talk with other couples going through similar treatments can also help you feel supported during this time. It may further help to perform stress-reducing techniques or strategies as you proceed through your fertility journey.
How ELITE IVF Can Help
At ELITE IVF, we value the contribution of the male partner to the success of the overall fertility journey. In the last 15 years, as the prevalence of male factor infertility has increased, we have instituted the highest standards of care and analysis as it relates to semen.
We work with the best semen analysts in the world and produce the most rigorous and validated semen analysis tests in the market — all for the purpose of uncovering a potential fertility blind spot. In turn, this saves patients both time and money that may be spent on treatments focused only on the female, while overlooking the male part of the equation.
By uncovering any potential issues with the male factor, we can achieve success quicker, which means less IVF cycles, less inconvenience for repetitive testing, and ultimately, reduced costs. We can analyze semen remotely, regardless of the location of the intended parents by using state of the art technology for either remote semen collection. This can be conveniently done from your home, or by referring you to a local clinic where you can leave a semen sample for freezing and transport to our select semen analysis lab.
At ELITE IVF, our fertility experts can refer you to the resources you need during your journey. Our team is dedicated to helping each individual or couple achieve the family of their dreams. Speak with one of our fertility specialists today and discover how we can help.