What Causes Infertility in Men?

Male infertility is more common than most people realize. It can be attributed to one of two things: either the male has a low sperm count or the sperm is not functioning properly (i.e., it either does not reach the egg or does not penetrate or fertilize the egg). Studies show that for some reason sperm counts are falling by approximately 3% each year.

 

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How is male infertility diagnosed?

If a man suspects he has a fertility issue, his doctor will order a “semen analysis.” The man provides a sample of his semen which is then sent to a laboratory. The man is instructed to abstain from sex in any form 2-5 days prior to this test. The technicians are looking for several things: 1) the number of sperm in the semen sample, and 2) the quality of the sperm. The quality includes several factors: their shape and size, and how well they swim. Based on the results, the doctor may order further tests, including a hormone analysis or tests of a genetic nature.


What Can Be Done If the Tests Show Infertility?

Infertility in MenIf the infertility problem is related to the sperm reaching the egg, there are several methods to overcome this. One way this might be accomplished is by means of artificial insemination of the partner (IUI). In vitro fertilization (IVF) is another way to be sure the egg is effectively fertilized. There is also a technique, used less often, in which the individual sperm is injected into eggs harvested from the female. This is called ICSI.

In cases in which the male is not producing any sperm at all, the only solution is a sperm donor. This is a personal decision that must be made mutually between the man and his mate. But it is certainly a viable alternative if all else fails.   Is Sperm Count or Quality Affected By Age?

As to sperm production or sperm count the answer to this question is no. However, it is true that the quality of that sperm is affected by age. Miscarriage is more common among women whose male partners are older than among those who are younger man. There is also the concern that the children of these older fathers run a risk of having certain genetic diseases. These factors indicate that the DNA of an older man has been altered or somehow mutated during the aging process.

Are There Certain Medical Conditions That Contribute to Low Sperm Count?

Yes. Some cancer treatments can affect sperm count. In addition, certain medications used to treat arthritis or kidney disorders have been known to reduce sperm count. If a man is faced with any of these scenarios, he has the option of banking his sperm in advance of such treatment. That way the sperm used to fertilize the egg, using whatever method, will be healthy sperm.

The good news is there are options and often solutions for those who find they are victims of male infertility


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