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All You Need To Know About Infertility in Males

Infertility, the inability of a couple to achieve conception after twelve months of adequate, regular and unprotected sexual intercourse, affects about 15% of marriages. Male infertility is the inability of a man to cause pregnancy in a fertile female. It also contributes to about the same percentage as the female factor in all cases of infertility.


What causes male infertility?

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Although a specific cause may not be established in 10 to 30% of cases, infertility in males is usually caused by one of the following:

Genetic disorders: A defect in the genetic make-up of an individual may cause infertility.

Testicular disorders: This may be due to the inability of the testes to descend into the scrotal sac, damage to the testes from diseases in childhood (like Mumps) and varicocele (swollen veins in the scrotum).

Hormonal disorders: Hormones are chemical messengers responsible for sperm production and transport. A defect in any of these hormones (such as too little testosterone) may cause a reduction in fertility.

Radiation to the reproductive system: Exposure to radiation due to medical procedures or work-related exposure may reduce one’s fertility.

Obstruction: When there is a problem with the conduit for semen transport, fertility is impaired. The blockage may be due to previous surgeries in the groin area, trauma or vasectomy.

Medications: Some medications, especially drugs used in the treatment of cancer, hypertension and arthritis, may reduce one’s fertility. Alcohol, marijuana, cigarette smoking and caffeine overdose all reduce fertility.

Lifestyle: Tight clothing and nylon underwear may also reduce fertility.

Sexual habits: Inadequate sexual intercourse, sexual techniques, inability to get an erection, or inability to reach climax and to ejaculate.

Other diseases: Subfertility may be associated with other diseases like liver disease, kidney failure, and sickle cell disease. Malaria may cause temporary falls in semen quality.

Prior poorly treated STIs: Poorly treated sexually transmitted infections may cause damage, scarring or blockage of the conduction system.

What is the seminal fluid analysis?

The human male, every time he ejaculates, produces about 50 million sperm cells per millilitre. This, in a mixture with other important fluids, is called semen. In infertility, semen is collected for examination. It assesses the:

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Sperm count: This examines the number of sperm cells in the ejaculate, which may be low or adequate. In some cases, there are no sperm cells in the semen. In other cases, there is no semen production at all.

Nature of the sperm cells: They may be normal, deformed or dead.

The volume of semen: It may be low or adequate.

Motility: This is a measure of the ability of the sperm cells to swim. They may be sluggish, slow, moderate, fast or immobile.

What are other tests done?

Other tests may be ordered, depending on the consultation and result of the seminal fluid analysis. Your doctor may request for a hormone profile, urine analysis, and immune studies.

What is the treatment for male infertility?

Treatment is specifically tailored to the cause, which varies from person to person. Generally, treatment may require sexual education, medications and, sometimes, surgery. There are also assisted reproductive techniques to help with conception.

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