Male Factor and Infertility

Male Factor and Infertility

Studies show that 20% of couples experience fertility challenges.

Around 30 per cent of fertility challenges in couples originate in women.

Another 30 per cent originate in the man and 30 per cent is found in both partners. No cause is found in around one in 10 couples investigated for infertility. This is called ‘unexplained’ infertility.

Causes of male infertility:

● Blockage in the passage of sperm
● Low sperm count
● Impotence and functionality
● Hormone challenges
● Sperm causing infertility in men

Male chromosome may be missing in some men who have sperm challenges.

Sperm challenges may cause:

● Abnormal shape – a healthy sperm is shaped like a streamlined tadpole. Abnormally shaped sperm may have problems penetrating the surface of the woman’s egg
● Absent sperm – the semen doesn’t contain any sperm. This may be caused by a blockage of the tubes or testicular failure
● Low sperm count – insufficient sperm for conception

Functional challenges

● Ejaculation challenges – premature ejaculation
● Testicular Challenges – caused by injury, infection or medication..
● Health Disorders –multiple sclerosis, diabetes can cause erection and ejaculation difficulties.
● Immune System – the immune system can create antibodies that hinder the activity of sperm.
● Impotence – the inability to get or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse.
● Hormones – A man’s hormones can also affect his sperm functionality.

Diagnosis of male infertility

● Physical checks – including medical history
● Semen analysis – a sample of the man’s sperm is tested and checked for abnormality and the presence of antibodies
● Blood tests – to assess hormone levels
● Testicular biopsy – a fine needle and microscope are used to check the network of tubes within the testicles.
● Ultrasound scans – to take pictures of the reproductive organs, such as the prostate gland.

Prevention of male infertility

To help improve your fertility, avoid:

● Cigarette smoking
● Alcohol
● Sexually transmitted diseases
● Heat stress from tight-fitting underwear
● Anabolic steroids – for body building
● Treatment for male infertility
● No treatments can improve the quality of a man’s sperm. However, various techniques can increase the odds of conception using the existing sperm quality.

Many men have sufficient sperm to fertilise their partner’s eggs in a test tube, even if they are unable to do so during sexual intercourse.

The reproductive technologies available to infertile men include:

● Surgery
● Hormone therapy
● Artificial insemination
● In vitro fertilisation (IVF)
● Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
● In vitro fertilisation (IVF) for male infertility

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is conception outside of the human body. Sperm is collected from the man and is placed in a special incubator The woman undergoes ovulation induction and eggs are collected. This is done through the vagina under ultrasound control.

The collected eggs are mixed with the sperm and they are placed in a special incubator. The fertilized eggs develop into embryos, which are then implanted into the woman’s uterus through a thin tube inserted through the cervix, again under ultrasound guidance.

Where to get help:

● Your doctor
● Fertility clinic
● Family planning clinic
● Public hospital

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