Male Infertility is a health condition where males are unable to reproduce. Infertility being an ailment of the reproductive system prevents a male partner from impregnating a female. It can affect either a man, a woman, or even both. If both partners have repeated unprotected sexual intercourse for over a year and the female doesn't get pregnant, then either the male partner or the female, or both of them may have infertility issues.
Infertility is a very common issue nowadays, which affects one in every six couples who are trying their level best to impregnate. On an average basis, of all cases of infertility, male infertility is a major or contributing cause.
Conception is an entirely complicated process, and it depends on plenty of components:
The generation of fine sperm by the male and equally fine eggs by the female partner.
Unblocked fallopian tubes permit the sperm to reach the egg.
The process of fertilization is when the sperm meets the egg.
The potential of the fertilized egg (embryo) to get embedded in the female's uterus.
Good embryo quality.
The main feature of male infertility is the inability to conceive a child. Signs and symptoms often involve:
Problems associated with sexual functions like hassled ejaculation or low volumes of fluid ejaculated, diminished sexual desire, or inability to maintain an erection of penis called Erectile Dysfunction
Presence of pain, swelling, or a lump in the testicle area
Varicoceles: This is a condition in which there is an enlargement of veins on the testicles, thereby causing them to overheat during ejaculation, which alters the shape as well as the number of sperms.
Cancer treatments: Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or any surgery that involves removal of the testicles.
Unhealthy habits: Overconsumption of alcohol use, smoking, illegal drug use, and anabolic steroids.
Trauma to the testicles.
Hormonal disorders: Disorders that influence your hypothalamus or pituitary glands can affect your infertility.
Environmental Causes: These include:
Extended exposure to industrial chemicals
Exposure to heavy metals
Exposure to radiations
Male infertility testing usually involves:
Physical Examination: This includes examining the genital area and asking questions about any hereditary conditions, chronic health problems, illnesses, injuries, or surgeries that can possibly affect fertility.
Semen Analysis: Semen samples can be taken in a couple of different ways. The patient can provide a sample by masturbating and ejaculating into a special container, after which it is given to a laboratory to check the sperm count and look for any malformation in the morphology and movement of the sperm. The lab will also check semen for infections. The doctor might prescribe additional tests to help identify the cause of infertility. These can include:
Scrotal Ultrasound. This test is performed to detect if there is a varicocele or other problems in the testicles and supporting structures.
Transrectal Ultrasound. This male infertility testing is done to look for blockages of the tubes carrying semen.
Hormone Testing. Abnormalities in hormones produced by the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, and testicles might also contribute to infertility.
Post-Ejaculation Urinalysis. The presence of sperm in urine can indicate sperm are traveling backward into the bladder instead of moving out from the penis during ejaculation (retrograde ejaculation).
Genetic Tests. Genetic testing might be advised to detect various congenital or inherited syndromes in the person.
Testicular Biopsy. This male infertility testing involves obtaining samples from the testicle with a needle to analyze sperm production.
Specialized Sperm Function Tests. A number of other tests can be done to assess the survival of sperm after ejaculation, their efficiency of penetrating an egg, and whether there is any problem in the attachment of the sperm to the egg. These tests aren't done frequently and usually don't change recommendations for male infertility treatment.
Treatments for male infertility commonly include:
Surgery. A varicocele or obstruction in vas deferens can often be surgically cured. Prior vasectomies can be reversed. In cases where there are absent sperms in the ejaculation phase, sperm can often be obtained through the testicles with the help of the sperm retrieval technique.
Treating infections. Antibiotic treatment certainly helps to get rid of an infection of the reproductive tract but doesn't always reimpose fertilization.
Treatments for sexual intercourse problems. Medication can help improve fertility in conditions of erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.
Hormone treatments and medications. Hormone replacement or medications is indicated in those cases where infertility is caused due to high or low levels of particular hormones or issues with the way the body makes use of hormones.
Assisted reproductive technology (ART). ART treatments involve acquiring sperm either through normal ejaculation, surgical extraction, or from donor individuals, depending on specific requirements and needs. The sperm are then placed into the female genital tract or used to perform in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
IVF and GIFT. Techniques like In vitro fertilization (IVF) and Gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT) act like artificial insemination. The doctor collects the sperm and mixes them with your partner's eggs collected from the ovaries. This whole procedure takes place either in the lab or in your partner's fallopian tube.
Various risk factors associated with male infertility treatment include:
Procedures like vasectomy or major abdominal or pelvic surgery
History of undescended testicles
Fertility disorder since birth
Certain medical conditions like tumours and chronic conditions like sickle cell anemia
Intake of certain medications or undergoing medical treatments, such as surgery or radiation used for treating cancer
Having issues with infertility doesn’t imply one won't be able to have their own kid. There are several treatment options available. The chances of conception greatly increased if both partners support each other mentally and emotionally and are in regular touch with a Urologist/ Andrologist.