Causes and Treatments for Male Infertility
Infertility affects both women and men. In fact, approximately 40 to 50 percent of infertility is caused by male-related factors. At the Houston Fertility Center, we are committed to helping patients overcome infertility with advanced testing and treatments performed by a highly skilled team. Dr. Sonja B. Kristiansen is extensively knowledgeable about male infertility and can help you create an effective plan to treat your condition or find an alternative solution to achieve conception. We have been serving Houston, TX, and surrounding areas for over 20 years. No matter your needs, we can help you build your family.
Exploring the Causes of Male Infertility
While the most common type of male infertility is idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown, the condition may also be due to certain disorders. In particular, male-factor infertility can be caused by:
- Gonad disorder
- Sperm transport disorder
- A disorder of the pituitary gland or hypothalamus
In most cases, male infertility is due to abnormal sperm shape, low sperm count, low motility, or ejaculation issues. Once the root cause is determined, an appropriate treatment can be recommended.
Common Infertility Factors
There are certain factors that can increase the chance for male-factor infertility, including:
- Tobacco use
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Toxin exposure
- Issues with the testicles, including trauma or overheating
- A prior vasectomy
- Family history of fertility issues
- Certain medical conditions or diseases
- Cancer treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy
The Diagnostic Process
With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Kristiansen can provide compassionate and thorough diagnosis and treatment for male infertility.
The most crucial element in male fertility testing is sperm analysis. During this process, Dr. Kristiansen will check for specific markers which commonly affect fertility. First, a semen sample is obtained. Next, the sample will be assessed for:
- Volume: A typical semen sample has a volume of approximately two milliliters. If there is less, it could indicate problems such as blocked ducts, issues with the seminal vesicles, or a prostate gland concern.
- Sperm count: Normal sperm count measures around 20 million to 300 million per milliliter. If the sperm count is below 10 million, it is considered poor.
- Motility: The movement of sperm cells is referred to as motility. In a typical sample, over 50 percent of sperm have a good motility rate. Anything less than this is considered low.
- Morphology: Abnormal or irregularly shaped sperm are less likely to fertilize an egg. In a typical sample, approximately 30 percent is considered normal. If the morphology score is lower, then male infertility is more likely.
Methods for Addressing Male Infertility
When a patient is diagnosed with male-factor infertility, there are several treatment options available to address the issue. Of course, the recommended treatment will depend on the specific cause of infertility.
Low sperm production may be improved with male fertility supplements, which can be purchased in most health food stores.
If low sperm count is to blame, artificial insemination can be beneficial. During this process, sperm is collected from multiple semen samples. Once obtained, they can be delivered directly to the woman’s fallopian tubes or uterus.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Another treatment option for low sperm count is IVF. This treatment involves harvesting eggs from the female and collecting sperm from the male. The eggs are then fertilized with the sperm in a laboratory setting. After a few days, the resulting embryos are implanted directly into the woman’s uterus.
If there is zero sperm production, then donor sperm can be used. These sperm are collected from a trusted sperm bank and delivered to the woman’s fallopian tubes or uterus with artificial insemination.
Reducing Your Risk
In general, there is no way to prevent male infertility caused by genetic issues or disease. However, there are several ways that men can promote healthy sperm production and increase their fertility.
To reduce the risk of male infertility, men should:
- Consume alcohol in moderation
- Protect themselves against STDs
- Avoid overheating the testicles (hot baths, saunas, or Jacuzzis)
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting underwear
- Avoid exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation
- Practice good hygiene
- Exercise and eat a well-balanced diet