How to Cure Male Infertility

Male infertility can be defined as ‘not being able to make a fertile female partner pregnant even after one year of frequent and unprotected sexual intercourse.’

How common is male infertility in the general population?

According to estimates, about one third of all infertility related cases are due to male infertility while female infertility accounts for another one third. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reveals that according to 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, about 7.5% of all sexually experienced men reported visiting health professionals for help in relation to having a child at least once in their lifetime. Among them, almost 18% were diagnosed of having male infertility issues, which includes sperm or semen problems and varicocele.

What are the causes for male infertility?

Although there are different causes giving rise to male infertility, in many instances it may not be possible to make a definite diagnosis. However, clinicians believe, varicocele to be one of the common causes along with abnormalities pertaining to sperm number, appearance and its motility or movements. Blockage in the tubular structures, which transports sperm from the testicles, can also lead to male infertility while infections, inflammation, tumors, hormonal imbalances, and surgeries near the reproductive organs could also lead to male infertility.

Furthermore, several functional problems such as inability to achieve a satisfactory erection, retrograde ejaculation or backflow of semen in to the bladder, premature ejaculation, and lack of sex drive have also been linked with male infertility.

What increases the risk of male infertility among sexually active men?

Some of the lifestyle measures undertaken by males, including alcohol abuse, tobacco smoking, abuse of recreational drugs…etc have shown to increase the risk of being infertile. At the same time, stressful lifestyles, being obese, poor nutrition and exposure of the testicles to higher than normal temperatures are some of the other risk factors.

Is there a treatment for male infertility?

Yes, about 50% of male infertility cases can be resolved through treatment. In certain other instances, treatment of the female partner will compensate for some of the deficiencies in the male partner.  

How to determine which treatment is suitable?

The key to treat a person with male infertility is to identify possible causes and risk factors. However, even if such findings are not apparent, empirical treatment could also bring about reasonable success.

Thus, when treating a person with male infertility, the medical and social history of that person will play a key role. Therefore, the health care provider will first interview the person in order to extract necessary information to determine a possible association.

Secondly, the doctor will examine the person in view of detecting a varicocele and other signs related to surgery, trauma, infections, and inflammation. While performing the examination, he or she will also assess the risk factors such as being obese, signs of smoking and drug abuse.

Thirdly, the clinician will perform several investigations including urine, semen, and blood analysis in order to determine any underlying cause. Sometimes, imaging studies such as ultra sound scanning and CT will also be useful.

What treatment options are available?

If there are identified risk factors, the doctor will advice the person on how they could reduce such risks and best practices which they should undertake to improve the quality of their sperm. These may include advice related to nutrition, stress reduction, weight reduction, avoiding smoking, and alcohol abuse as well as advice related to protecting the testicles from external hazards such as trauma, heat, and radiation.

-Surgery

When the underlying cause is a varicocele, surgical correction can be undertaken while certain instances of blockage can also be relieved through surgery. If the underlying cause is a tumor, it may require surgical excision, which can improve infertility to a certain extent. However, it should be remembered that, tumors causing male infertility may not only present in the testes but could also appear at the pituitary level causing imbalance of the reproductive hormones. Furthermore, certain instances of erectile dysfunction can also be treated with surgical means.

-Hormone replacement

Hormone replacement is another treatment method, which replaces deficient hormones in order to achieve the correct balance to improve sperm production as well as the sex drive. It may also resolve issues such as retrograde ejaculation and other functional disorders causing male infertility.

-Medications

If there are signs of infections or inflammation, the clinician will start the person on antibiotics or anti-inflammatory agents, which can improve the infertility. However, in certain instances, delays in starting such treatment may lead to irreversible damage to the reproductive organs. At times, adjusting or choosing an alternative drug in place of an existing medication may also help resolve fertility issues.

-Counseling

Psychiatric interventions such as counseling will also help certain individuals suffering from lack of sex drive, ejaculatory problems and erection related problems. Certain medications may also be of use to potentiate the effects of psychiatric interventions.  

-Assisted reproductive techniques

If all such measures fail, assisted reproductive techniques will help the male to make use of his own sperms to fertilize a female egg artificially. Such methods have seen to improve over the years with a higher success rate enabling many men to become fathers.

References:

Anderson JE, Farr SL, Jamieson DJ, Warner L, and Macaluso M. Infertility services reported by men in the United States: national survey data. Fertility and Sterility 2009; (6):2466–2470.

http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/Infertility/index.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/male-infertility/DS01038/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs