Male infertility and temporary impotence
The issues of male infertility and temporary impotence have caused a lot of problems in different homes, leading in some cases to divorce. There are solutions in both cases and things do not have to get so bad as to end in a divorce. Male infertility is the inability of a man to impregnate his wife who is fertile. These may have been involved in regular unprotected sexual intercourse for periods ranging from six months to one year. Male infertility accounts for about 50 per cent of all cases of infertility.
Causes of male infertility
To discuss the causes of male infertility, let us first of all look at the processes involved in conception. For conception to take place the sperm cells, which are produced in the testicles must be transported from the point of production through the urethra of the man into the vagina of his partner. The sperm cells will further pass through the opening of the uterus known as the cervical os, into the uterus. The sperm cells would continue their journey through the Fallopian tubes to the ends of the tubes where they will meet the eggs. The first sperm cell that touches and penetrates into an egg (ovum) fertilizes it while others die. From this summary, it is evident that whatever hinders this process at any point could be referred to as a cause of male infertility.
The testes where the sperms are produced must be well positioned, adequately descended into the scrotum and away from the heat of the body. Male hormones, like testosterone and certain minerals, which aid the production of sperms, should also be sufficient.
At least 20 million sperm cells are needed. Out of this number only one fertilizes the one egg that may be present. The moment that one cell makes contact with the egg all others die off.
It is important that the sperm cell has the perfect morphology [shape] and that it is able to swim in the semen [the slimy fluid in which the sperm cells are transported]. In other words the motility of the sperm needs also to be perfect.
The semen should have an alkaline pH, which is conducive for the survival of the sperm cells. If the pH of the semen is acidic, the sperm cells will die.
Furthermore, the alkalinity of the semen ensures that the acid pH of the vagina is neutralized to make certain that the sperm cells remain alive while passing through the vagina.
Sperm cells are carried in certain tiny tubes from the testicles to meet with the semen, which is then connected to the urethra through the vas deferens.
Factors that could lead to male infertility could affect sperm cell production, morphology, motility, and those that could hinder the deposition of the sperms in the vagina. These factors could either be outside the testicles, within the testicles and those that obstruct the flow of the sperms.
Factors that could lead to male infertility outside the testicles will include:
Drugs and certain medications, chemotherapy, anabolic steroids, cimetidine etc and alcohol. Others are tobacco smoking, obesity (this increases the risk of hormonal imbalance) and bicycle riding which may increase the heat around the groin.
Certain glands in the brain [hypothalamus and the pituitary gland] stimulate the testicles [gonads] to produce testosterone, the male sex hormone. If for any reason these glands fail, the result will be male sex hormone [testosterone] deficiency. This causes problems such as erectile dysfunction and low sperm count, both of which can cause male infertility.
Factors that cause male infertility within the testicles are such as lead to the production of low quality and quantity of sperm cells in the midst of adequate hormones. These are as follows: age, varicocele [enlargement of the testicular blood vessels], hydrocele (collection of water in the testes), trauma, malaria fever, mumps orchidism, cancer of the testes, idiopathic oligospermia (where cause of low sperm count is unknown), genetic defect of the Y chromosome and radiation therapy.
Factors that cause male infertility by obstructing the flow of semen and sperm cells. These are factors that hinder the sperm cells from being deposited in the vagina and they include obstruction or absence of the vas deferens after surgery, ejaculatory duct obstruction, retrograde ejaculation [the semen flows into the bladder instead of coming out through the urethra. This is a common complication after operation involving the prostate, bladder or urethra.
Certain health conditions also lead to retrograde ejaculation; diabetes, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries]. Other causes of male infertility in this group are premature ejaculation, infections like prostatitis and impotence – temporary or permanent.
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