Male infertility 101 - Somerset Urological Associates

Male infertility 101

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Many men look forward to starting their own family one day, especially when they’ve found that special someone in their life. Coping with male infertility is always heartbreaking, but sometimes it’s easier to cope when the situation is fully understood. Here are the basics on male infertility.

What Male Infertility Means

Male infertility means a man cannot cause a pregnancy through natural, sexual intercourse. It also means he cannot cause a pregnancy by way of donating his sperm. An infertile man typically needs to employ the help of a fertility specialist or medical professional in order to successfully reproduce.

Male infertility accounts for approximately half of all infertility cases among people in general. Affecting roughly 7% of men, male infertility is typically caused by some sort of problem with a man’s semen. For instance, maybe a guy is infertile simply because he is not producing enough sperm. Alternatively, his semen could also have structural or mobile problems. However, although a main cause, semen deficiencies are not the only cause for male infertility. Sometimes there are problems with the penis or testicles.

Steps for Treating Male Infertility

The steps for treating male infertility are clearly defined. First there’s the initial consultation where a physical exam takes place and a full medical history is discussed. Then there’s the diagnosing phase, otherwise understood as finding the root of the problem. And finally, after a proper diagnosis is made, the patient and specialist can discuss appropriate procedures. The specialist needs to know exactly what’s going on with the male’s reproductive organs to successfully treat the infertility issue.

Take sperm count for example. When a man has a low sperm count, he cannot contribute to conception. As a rule of thumb, fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen is clinically classified as a low amount. The reason low sperm count could be the cause for male infertility is the fact that over 200 million sperm need to be released during ejaculation in the hopes that a select few will make it past the female cervix. Surely no man will ever know how much sperm he releases or averages without a test. This reiterates the fact that male infertility needs to be clinically diagnosed. It also demonstrates how complex diagnosing can be.

Male Infertility Options

Adoption is always a wonderful opportunity for starting a family or for helping a family grow bigger. However, the clinical options for treating or dealing with male infertility include medication, surgery, medical procedures, hormone treatments, and donor sperm. The two most popular male infertility options are intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF).

With IUI a medical procedure known as sperm washing is performed to separate the weak sperm from the healthy sperm. Afterwards, the strongest sperm are then directly transplanted into the uterus. By manually putting the sperm closer to an egg, the overall travel time and distance those particular sperm would have needed to reach that egg is narrowed down.

For IVF, a health care provider will collect a male’s semen and put it together with a female’s eggs to make sure fertilization occurs. The main difference between the IVF and IUI procedures is where the actual process of fertilization takes place. With IVF a woman’s eggs are removed from her uterus and held in a test tube. It is in this test tube that semen and eggs will be combined so fertilization can occur.

Prepping for your Appointment

Deficiencies in the semen are the most common cause of male infertility. Having said that, specific semen qualities such as the amount of seminal fluid, the sperm count, how quickly the sperm move, and size, shape, and appearance of sperm are all solid ways for determining a male’s reproductive potential. Therefore, the initial part of a man’s infertility consultation will include a physical exam, and semen sample analysis.

During the first appointment, the patient should also come prepared to share a full medical history and to ask any questions. Finally, he may also leave his initial appointment with a script for specific blood testing. If the patient is facing any hormonal problems, the specialist will need to know this information before moving forward.

For more about male infertility or to book a consultation with one of our experts, please do not hesitate to contact SUA. We are always happy to help!