Male factor infertility refers to a man’s inability to cause pregnancy in a fertile female. It accounts for about 40-50% infertility. It affects almost ten perfect of all men. About 15 percent of couples are unable to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse. If male factor infertility is present, it is almost always defined by the finding of an abnormal semen analysis. There will be deficiencies in the semen or other semen qualities that are abnormal. Other male factors can also play a role when the semen analysis is normal.
Male fertility is complex. If you are a male and want to get your partner pregnant, a few things have to happen. One of them includes a healthy sperm. This involves the normal growth and formation of male reproductive organs during puberty. At least one of your testicles has to function correctly, and your body has to produce a certain level of testosterone and other reproductive hormones that trigger and maintain sperm production. If your sperm count is low it decreases the odds that one of your sperm will fertilize the egg of your partner. Fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen (fewer than 30 million sperm per ejaculate). If your sperm’s ability to move around (motility) is abnormal, your sperm may not be able to reach and penetrate the egg of your partner. Individual sperm are produced in your testicles, and delicate tubes transport them to mix with semen to be ejaculated out of your penis.
Possible factors relating to male infertility are varied. If you have some of these traits and characteristics, you may be at risk for developing male factor infertility.
- Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism: A congenital or acquired disorder that causes a gonadotropin deficiency. A lack of sex steroid production is the result.
- Alcohol: Heavy drinking can reduce men’s fertility and libido. It can also cause impotence and affect sperm quality.
- Celiac Disease: Men with this disease may develop a gonadal dysfunction, which could complicate fertility issues.
- DNA Damage: Environmental conditions radiation and cancer are examples of factors late lead to an abnormal DNA fragmentation that is incompatible with male fertility. As you age, you will have a consistent decline in semen quality. This decline is due to DNA damage.
- Drugs: Use of illicit drugs lowers your sperm count and causes other possibly debilitating chemical imbalances in your body.
- Epigenetic: If you have abnormal sperm DNA methylation (a gene-transferring process) you may develop abnormal semen parameters and infertility.
- Genetic Abnormalities
- Medications: Some drugs approved by the FDA are known to cause
- Smoking: Smoking tobacco increases your intake of cadmium, which is chemically similar to zinc, and the excess cadmium could start replacing the zinc in your DNA polymerase. This process caused by tobacco products will damage your testicles and kill sperm.
- Strenuous Riding
- Post-Testicular Causes: Conditions that affect your body after testicular sperm production. A defect in your genital tract or a problem with ejaculation are examples of a post-testicular cause.
- Testicular Factors: Conditions where your testes produce low-quality semen, despite hormonal support (if you are already prescribed and taking male reproductive hormone boosting medications). The most common one (present in 15% in normal men and 40% of infertile men) that causes infertility is a varicocele. Varicocele is a swelling of your network of veins that lead your spermatic cord (drains the into your penis.
Your doctor will diagnose your male factor infertility by taking several steps. Your doctor will take your medical history, particularly your prior testicular or penile problems (trauma, torsion), infections (mumps, epididymitis), and environmental factors like excessive heat, medications, radiations, and drugs used. Your doctor will want to know whether you are taking anabolic steroids, drinking excess amounts of alcohol, or smoking cigarettes. Your doctor will then have you disrobe completely and put on a gown. Your doctor will perform a thorough examination of your penis, scrotum, anus, and testicles. They may measure your testicular volume with an orchidometer. After, your doctor will want to test your sperm for fertility factors and semen deficiencies. They will look for different semen and sperm disorders that can range from having a complete lack of semen to an abnormal increase in sperm to reduced sperm motility. You may have a combination of the six semen deficiencies that are possible: oligospermia, aspermia, hypospermia, azoospermia, teratorspermia, and asthenozoospermia. Hormonal tests performed on a sample of your blood can reveal genetic causes of infertility and testosterone levels. Getting an ultrasound on your scrotum is useful when your doctor suspects particular diseases that tend to be more related to testicular lesions, cancer, and dysgenesis (a congenital disorder of the reproductive system).
Your treatment will vary according to the underlying disease that is causing your infertility and the degree to which you are impaired by your fertility level. Pre-testicular conditions can be solved with medication or other medical interventions, but testicular-based infertility tends to resist medication. Talk to your doctor about whether intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmatic sperm injection are right for you and your male factor infertility.
It is important to remember that male factor infertility can be prevented for the most part. Avoiding smoking, heavy marijuana or alcohol use, excess heat to the testes, not having sex too often or too frequently, and wearing a protective cup or jockstrap during sporting activities can help reduce your risk of male factor infertility.
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