Infertility is a problem faced by many couples who are attempting to conceive a child. An estimated fifteen percent of couples have problems with fertility. If you and your partner have been having unprotected sex for at least one year and have not conceived, infertility may be to blame. In nearly 30 percent of all infertile couples, male factor infertility is the underlying cause. The inability to conceive and successfully maintain a pregnancy can be frustrating ordeal for many couples, but there are several treatment options available that may be able to help you conceive.
What Is Male Infertility?
Infertility is the inability to conceive a child following an extended period of unprotected intercourse. Male infertility refers to the basis of the infertility lying within the man. Many factors can affect male fertility, including:
- Low sperm count
- Abnormally shaped sperm
- Sperm that cannot swim or obstructions that interfere with the release of sperm
- Certain diseases or illnesses
- Underlying health issues
- Unhealthy lifestyle
What Causes Male Infertility?
In order to achieve pregnancy, the male needs to create healthy sperm that are able to arrive at his partner’s egg. Sperm must then penetrate the egg and have the ability to fertilize it. If any of these steps are unattainable, conception will not occur. If the male body is not producing enough testosterone, he may not be able to sustain adequate sperm production. Additionally, if there is a blockage in the tubes which carry the sperm, a poor sperm count or decreased motility of sperm will occur.
Male infertility can also be caused by underlying medical conditions such as an infection within the reproductive organs, a varicocele, retrograde ejaculation, metabolic disorders and testicular cancer, among other conditions. In addition, environmental factors such as high exposure to chemicals or toxins may contribute to a low sperm count. Likewise, certain medications, illegal drug use, alcohol abuse, stress, vitamin deficiency and obesity can all lead to the development of male infertility.
Types Of Non-Surgical Treatments
Depending upon the cause of the male infertility, it is possible to seek out non-surgical treatments such as drug therapy. Drug therapy is a good option for treating any underlying infections that may be causing a problem with fertility. Medication can also be effective for improving sperm production and treating any hormonal imbalances. For an identified low sperm count, sperm washing is an option that may be considered. Sperm washing refers to the process of separating strong, healthy sperm and preparing them for insemination. If sexual dysfunction is a suspected cause of male infertility, the attending physician may suggest medication or counseling as a treatment option.
Types Of Surgical Treatments
Surgical treatments may be necessary if the male infertility is unable to be treated with a non-surgical approach. Surgery is used to treat reproductive tract blockages and varicoceles. A varicocele refers to the swelling of the veins that drain the testicles. In addition, a surgeon may need to perform sperm retrieval, which is a minimally invasive out-patient procedure. Sperm retrieval is used when blockages cannot be corrected, if the man has had a vasectomy or if there is a congenital defect in the reproductive tract.
Though there is not much definitive proof, many people believe that herbal supplements may help with male infertility. Consider using Vitamin C, Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin E, Vitamin B12, and Asian Ginseng to improve sperm count and quality. Always consult your doctor before starting an herbal supplement regimen. In high doses herbal supplements may cause harm. Home remedies to consider include increased frequency of sex, having intercourse during your partner’s most fertile time and limiting the use of lubricants that tend to slow down sperm.
What To Expect From Your Visit
If infertility is suspected by you or your partner, make an appointment to see your doctor. Be well prepared for your appointment so that your first visit is productive. When you make your appointment, ask if there is anything you need to do prior to coming in, such as refraining from sexual activity or stopping any medications. In preparation for your visit, make a list of any symptoms you are having, any medications you are taking, a family history of infertility and any personal information you deem important. It may be a good idea for your partner to come along, so the two of you can ask questions together.
Your doctor will most likely ask you a lot of personal questions and take a medical history. To properly diagnose infertility your doctor will order a semen analysis. Once the semen analysis is completed, your doctor may suggest that you participate in more specific tests to determine the root of the infertility.
Trying to conceive a baby can be a stressful and confusing time, especially if you and your partner are faced with infertility. It is important to talk with your partner and decide together how far you are willing to pursue infertility treatments. Those treatments that are not covered by insurance can be quite costly. It is helpful to remember that in most cases, male infertility is treatable with a non-surgical course of action which can be very successful. If you and your partner have not conceived after one year of unprotected intercourse, speak with your doctor to determine the source of the infertility, be it male or female, and begin your road to conception.