Male Fertility Care

What is male infertility?

Reproduction (or making a baby) is a simple and natural experience for most of the couples. However, for some couples it is very difficult to conceive.

A man’s fertility generally relies on the quantity and quality of his sperm. If number of sperm is low or if the sperm are of a poor quality, it will be difficult, and sometimes impossible, for him to get a pregnancy.

Male infertility is diagnosed when, after investigating both partners, reproductive problems have been found in the male.

How common is male infertility?

Infertility is a widespread problem. For about one in five infertile couples the problem lies solely in the male partner.

It is estimated that one in 20 men has some kind of fertility problem with low numbers of sperm in his ejaculate. However, only about one in every 100 men have no sperm in his ejaculate.

What are the symptoms of male infertility?

In most cases, there are no obvious signs of infertility. Intercourse, erections and ejaculation will usually happen without difficulty. The quantity and appearance of the ejaculated semen generally appears normal to the naked eye.

Medical tests are needed to find out if a man is infertile.

What causes male infertility?

Male infertility is usually caused by problems that affect either sperm production or sperm transport. Through medical examination & investigation, the doctor may be able to find the cause of the problem.

About two-thirds of infertile male have a problem with formation of sperm in the testes. Either low numbers of sperm are made and/or the sperm that are made of ineffective quality.

Sperm transport problems are found in about one in every five infertile male, including males who have had a vasectomy but now wish to have more children. Blockages (often referred to as obstructions) in the tubes leading sperm away from the testes to the penis can cause a complete lack of sperm in the ejaculated semen.

Other less common causes of infertility include: sexual problems that affect semen to enter the woman’s vagina for fertilisation to take place (one in 100 infertile couples); low levels of hormones made in the pituitary gland that act on the testes to produce sperms (one in 100 infertile men); and sperm antibodies (found in one in 16 infertile men). In most men sperm antibodies will not affect the chance of a pregnancy but in some men sperm antibodies reduce fertility.

Known causes of male infertility

Sperm production problems   Blockage of sperm transport
  • Chromosomal or genetic causes
  • Undescended testes (failure of the testes to descend at birth)
  • Infections
  • Torsion (twisting of the testis in scrotum)
  • Varicocele (varicose veins of the testes)
  • Medicines and chemicals
  • Radiation damage
  • Unknown cause
  • Infections
  • Prostate-related problems
  • Absence of vas deferens
  • Vasectomy
Sexual problems (erection and ejaculation problems) Hormonal problems
  • Retrograde and premature ejaculation
  • Failure of ejaculation
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Infrequent intercourse
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Prostate surgery
  • Damage to nerves
  • Some medicines
  • Pituitary tumours
  • Congenital lack of LH/FSH (pituitary problem from birth)
  • Anabolic (androgenic) steroid abuse
Sperm antibodies  
  • Vasectomy
  • Injury or infection in the epididymis
  • Unknown cause
 

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