Understanding Male Infertility

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in roughly 8 percent of couples who are unable to conceive, male infertility is the identifiable culprit.

If you have spent years trying to conceive and are concerned that you may be a statistic, read on to learn about male infertility, particularly its causes, how it’s diagnosed, and the treatment options available for it.

Causes of Male Infertility

Male infertility has various potential causes, the most common of which are certain medical conditions—such as varicocele (swelling of the veins responsible for draining the testicle), tumors, and infection—and testicular and sperm disorders, as outlined below:

  • Low sperm production (having less than 39 million sperm total per ejaculation)
  • Abnormal shape of sperm, which hinders the ability to fertilize an egg
  • Poor sperm motility or ability to move efficiently
  • Obstruction in ducts that carry sperm (possible infection or vasectomy reversal failure)
  • Low testosterone levels (under 300 nanograms per deciliter)
  • Testicular trauma (e.g., rupture, fracture, contusion, torsion, or dislocation)

Other possible causes of male infertility include ejaculation problems and erectile dysfunction (ED). If a man is not able to achieve or sustain an erection or if there is little or no sperm that exits his penis, it could also apparently make conception difficult.

Lifestyle choices, such as smoking and excessive alcohol use, can also affect fertility. Certain medications, such as those used to treat/manage infection, arthritis, cancer, depression, and high blood pressure, can also have an impact on sperm function and production.

How Male Infertility Is Diagnosed

To confirm a diagnosis, your urologist will have to review your medical history, do a physical exam, and run some tests. Your doctor will also likely order a semen analysis, to assess the volume and quality of your sperm.

If the results of your semen analysis are normal, your doctor may order additional tests, such as a hormonal profile to evaluate your testosterone levels; a transrectal ultrasound to check for any blockages; and/or a scrotal ultrasound to check for any problems inside your testicles. If the test results come back abnormal, your doctor may order a testicular biopsy, which will reveal problems with the transport of semen. If there is no evidence of a blockage, your doctor may rule in a genetic cause, or may recommend that you get your partner also checked.

Treatment Options Available

The type of treatment your urologist will recommend will depend on the underlying cause. For instance, they may prescribe antibiotics to address an infection. For erectile dysfunction and/or premature ejaculation, your urologist may prescribe other types of medications or recommend other approaches, such as lifestyle changes, hormone therapy, and counseling. Surgery may be necessary to correct varicocele.

When all of these modalities have been fully explored but without success, your urologist may resort to assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF). This generally involves obtaining a sperm sample through normal ejaculation or surgical extraction, or from a donor, depending on your preference and specific case. The sperm cells are then injected into the woman’s genital tract using a tiny needle called a micropipette to initiate the fertilization process.

Male Infertility Expert in Concord, NC

At Carolina Urology Partners, Dr. Richard Natale, our board-certified urologist, can help get to the bottom of what’s causing your infertility and increase your chances of conceiving. Dr. Natale has been a part of the success stories of countless couples who had spent years or even decades trying to get pregnant. You can trust him with yours as well!

To see Dr. Natale, call our staff today at (704) 786-5131. You may also use our convenient online form, and we will contact your promptly to arrange your appointment.

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