Infertility in men can be a depressing factor. But No More!!!
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Contrary to what people might think, infertility is not limited to only women. Infertility has become a major issue these days, and men are equally affected as women. Issues such as low sperm count and sperm quality are major causes of male infertility.
What causes infertility in men?
Male infertility can be caused for several reasons. They may be caused due to medical issues, environmental issues, or lifestyle issues. One of the main problems of male infertility is the inability to produce healthy sperm. It can be caused due to various factors like,
- Varicocele is a lump or swelling caused by dilated or enlarged veins that drain the testicle. They occur when the veins that take away blood from the testicles become engorged with blood. Varicocele often leads to reduced sperm quality and quantity.
- Hydrocele is a lump or swelling in the scrotum that occurs when fluid collects in the fold of the mucous membrane that surrounds the testicle. It most commonly develops in newborns and disappears as they grow. In some cases, hydroceles can appear in adults too.
- Hormonal issues that arise due to problems with hormonal glands, including the pituitary, thyroid, hypothalamus, and adrenal glands.
- Immunity problems where your body creates anti-sperm antibodies against your own sperm.
- Infections or inflammatory diseases like epididymitis (inflammation of the epididymis) and orchitis (inflammation of testicles).
- Heredity and genetic diseases like hemochromatosis and cystic fibrosis.
Heavy exposure to industrial chemicals (pesticides, organic solvents, etc.), radiation (X-Ray), and heat.
- Heavy usage of alcohol, tobacco, steroids, or marijuana can cause infertility in men.
- Obesity can also cause infertility by causing hormonal changes in the body.
When to consult a male fertility doctor?
It is recommended to visit a fertility doctor if you cannot conceive a child after about a year of regular intercourse or if you have the following symptoms.
Diagnostic methods I follow
Once you have found that you have problems conceiving a child, it is better to do a fertility test as soon as possible. Below are some of the tests I take to analyze male fertility issues.
The sperm count, motility (movement), shape (morphology) and other characteristics of the sperm are tested in this examination.
Specialised Sperm Function Tests
This test determines whether the sperm can penetrate the egg and if there are issues with the sperm binding itself to the egg.
DNA Fragmentation Index (DFI)
This test evaluates the quality of sperm by detecting any damage to the DNA of the sperm.
Fertility treatments I provide
More often than not, the exact cause of infertility cannot be found. But there are some treatments that can be done to overcome infertility. Some of the treatments I provide are given below.
Undergoing surgery can cure issues like varicocele, and hydrocele and repair previous vasectomies.
- Surgery For Varicocele
Varicocele surgery can help seal off the affected vein and redirect blood flow into a healthy vein. This surgery can help
- Restore the affected testicle to its original size,
- improve sperm quantity, and
- May improve fertility or semen quality for IVF.
- Surgery For Hydrocele
A hydrocele is removed by making a cut in the scrotum or lower stomach area. A tube is then used to drain the fluids accumulated in the scrotum. You may need to do follow-up exams because a hydrocele can grow back.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
This process takes place when a couple opts for IVF treatment. A sperm is selected by an expert embryologist under various conditions. It is selected based on the shape of its head, its ability to move (motility), and its overall appearance. The single sperm cell is then placed inside a micropipette, a tiny needle, and injected into the egg.
Sperm Retrieval techniques
There are various methods of retrieving sperm from a man with a testicular problem. The methods that I follow to retrieve sperm are,
I conduct counselling sessions and suggest medications that can help alleviate problems like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
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Frequently asked questions
Fertility specialists are gynaecologists or urologists who specialize in issues related to the fertility of women and men respectively. Some of the doctors who specialize in fertility are
- Reproductive Endocrinologists (REs),
- Reproductive Surgeons, and
- Reproductive Immunologists.
Artificial Reproductive Technology includes all medical procedures and treatments that address fertility issues. It primarily deals with handling eggs, embryos, and sperm.
Some examples of ART treatments are IVF (in vitro fertilisation), GIFT (gamete intrafallopian transfer), ZIFT (zygote intrafallopian transfer), and PROST (pronuclear stage tubal transfer).
Infertility in men can be caused by various reasons. Some of the essential factors of male infertility are
- Hormonal issues,
- Immunity problems,
- Infections or inflammatory diseases,
- Environmental factors, and
- Lifestyle factors.
A sexually healthy male will have a sperm count ranging from 15 million to more than 200 million sperm per millimeter of semen. A low semen count is when one has fewer than 15 million sperm per millimeter of sperm or fewer than 39 million sperm per ejaculate.