Contributed by: Abshar Faheem
Understanding male infertility
Male infertility is a condition that reduces the chances of the female partner getting pregnant even after 12 months sexual activity aimed at pregnancy. Around 13 out of 100 couples are unable to get pregnant after regular or unprotected sex. One-third of the infertility problem is associated with the female partner, one-third is associated with the male partner, and one-third is caused by a combination of problems in both partners or maybe unexplained.
There are a variety of causes for infertility in men but it is often due to problems with sperm production or with sperm count and/or delivery. In normal conditions, the sperm goes into the female’s vagina by traveling through her cervix to the uterus and from the uterus, the sperm goes to her fallopian tubes. When the sperm and the female’s egg meet, fertilization happens. This process can only go well if the genes, hormone levels, and environmental conditions are appropriate.
Producing a healthy and mature sperm that can travel through the vagina and fuse with the egg in the fallopian tubes of the female is dependent on a variety of factors.
What causes male infertility?
Problems in the male may cause cells to stop growing into a sperm while some problems in men may keep the sperm from reaching the egg or maybe the temperature of the scrotum may affect the fertility of the man. There are a variety of main causes and other factors such as environmental and genetics that can contribute to male infertility.
Main causes of male infertility:
- Sperm disorders such as immature sperm, oddly shaped, or low count
- Retrograde ejaculation
- Immunologic infertility
- Blockages, birth defects, or physical damage in parts of the testicles
- Hormonal imbalances in the pituitary and the thyroid glands
- Certain medications can alter sperm production, function, and delivery. These medications may be given to treat other health issues such as arthritis, depression, high blood pressure, or digestive problems.
- Chronic diseases such as anemia, malnutrition, cancer, neurological disease, or diabetes
- A disease of the male genital tract such as cancer, trauma, or infection
- Surgery on the male genital tract for the treatment of undescended testicle or hernia
- Sexually transmitted diseases or other infections
- Sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation
Environmental factors for male infertility:
- Excess heat or high temperature
- Consumption of drugs including marijuana or cocaine
- Exposure to toxicants and environmental hazards like pesticides, lead, radiation, mercury, and other radioactive substances
- Excessive workout
- Dietary deficiencies such as zinc, vitamin C and folic acid
Genetic factors for male infertility:
- Mutations inside the genes that may determine the male sex such as y-chromosome
- Genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis
- Other irregular differences in the genes such as some men may have a common condition called Klinefelter’s XXY syndrome in which they have an additional copy of the female sex-determining genes such as x-chromosome
- Hormonal issues such as diabetes or high levels of the milk-producing hormone called prolactin
Treatment for male infertility
Men should also get tested for fertility as well as women. You can talk to your doctor or urologist who may ask you for a physical exam. After the physical exam, Your doctor may order a semen analysis which can monitor the quality and quantity of the sperm in the semen. A semen analysis can also determine Azoospermia (no sperm production), oligospermia (few sperm productions), the problem with sperm motility, and the problem with sperm morphology (problem with form and structure).
These conditions may be the straight cause that you cannot conceive or those conditions may be caused by an underlying condition. Your doctor may examine the issue further by conducting a blood test, transrectal ultrasound, testicular biopsy, or urine tests. Treatment of male infertility depends on what causes infertility. Several male problems can be cured by drugs and surgery that can allow conception through normal sex.
The treatment is divided into three categories including non-surgical therapy, surgical therapy, and treatment of unknown causes of male infertility. If you are someone who has been diagnosed with male infertility, discuss with your doctor any behavioral changes that can boost your chances of conceiving. If your sperm count is low, your doctor may ask you to have less intercourse to form a better concentration of sperm. Your doctor may recommend some lifestyle changes such as
- Avoiding toxicants and environmental hazards
- Avoiding smoking and alcohol
- Reducing stress and Relax
- Taking vitamins such as iron, folic acid, and zinc
- Antioxidants such as vitamin C
- Get enough vitamin D
- Take fenugreek supplement
- Lose excess weight
- Get adequate sleep
- Avoid eating too much soy
- Eat lots of walnuts
The bottom line
Infertility is a common health issue affecting men worldwide. If you have infertility issues, one thing you can do is to improve your general health. We hope you find this article useful for yourself.