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Male Infertility

Some people still think of fertility as a “woman’s problem”. Up to half of all cases of infertility involve problems with the male partner. Infertility in a man may be the sole reason that a couple can’t conceive, or it may simply add to the difficulties caused by infertility in his partner.

So it’s crucial that men get tested for fertility as well as women. It’s also important that men do it early. Though some men may want to put off being tested out of embarrassment, early testing can spare their partners a great deal of unnecessary discomfort and expense. It’s also a good way to quickly narrow down potential problems.

Up to half of all cases of infertility involve the male partner. Tests to determine causes of male infertility include semen analysis that evaluates sperm count, the quality of sperm, and sperm movement. Other reasons for male infertility range from physical problems that prevent sperm being ejaculated normally in semen, sexually transmitted diseases or other infections, autoimmune problems, and the use of alcohol and drugs.

To diagnose the male infertility there are various tests

- Semen Analysis
- Sperm Penetration Tests
- Antisperm Antibody Test

What a Semen Analysis test Can Detect

Azoospermia – No sperm are produced, or the sperms aren’t appearing in the semen.
Oligiospermia – Few sperms are produced.
Problems with sperm motility – If the sperms aren’t moving normally, they are less likely to be capable of fertilizing an egg.
Problems with sperm morphology – Problems with the form and structure — or morphology — of the sperm may cause infertility.

Reasons for Male Infertility

There are a wide number of reasons for male infertility. Some are caused by physical problems that prevent the sperm from being ejaculated normally in semen. Others affect the quality and production of the sperm itself.

Common causes of male infertility

The “male factor” contributes to infertility around half the time, and about one third of the time, it’s the main cause of infertility. Most often, the problem lies in the process of either making or moving the sperm.

Any of the following can cause a man to have a low sperm count or abnormal sperm:

- Varicocele – an abnormal collection of bulging veins above the testicle; they’re the most common cause of correctable male infertility, accounting for 38% of cases
- Undescended testicles
- Infections in the testicle (orchitis), the prostate (prostatitis), or elsewhere in the body that causing high fever
- Chemotherapy treatment for cancer
- Medicines such as anabolic steroids or anti-seizure medicines
- Genetic abnormalities
- Hormone problems

Low Sperm Count

Having a low sperm count can be a very frustrating fertility problem for a man. The good news for the man with a low sperm count, however, is that having a low sperm count is very often a treatable condition. Having a low sperm count does not have to be the deciding factor on whether or not a man is able to have children. Even in the worst scenarios, where the low sperm count does not respond to less aggressive treatments, viable sperm can almost always be extracted to use in procedures such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) or ICSI.

The treatment for low sperm count depends, greatly, on what exactly it is that is causing the low sperm count. Some of the most common causes of a low sperm count can include genetic causes, stress, varicoceles, nutritional deficiencies, infections, obesity, the use of prescription or illicit drugs and smoking. Even exposure to heavy metals is thought, in some cases, to lead to a low sperm count. Knowing the cause of a low sperm count can enable you and your health care provider to develop a treatment plan that has a higher chance of success. For example, if the cause is a lifestyle issue or a nutritional issue, it may be relatively easy to address the problem. If the problem is more complex, such as with varicoceles, treatment for a low sperm count will have to be a lot more aggressive. In other instances, such as  with genetic causes, it may not be possible at all to treat a low sperm count.

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