Could Infertility be a Male’s Problem?

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While oftentimes it is true, the problems that couples have with infertility may not have to do with the woman. Infertility issues are actually split evenly between the man and the woman. There are multiple components that make up a couple’s ability to conceive, and each person is only solely responsible for 30% of fertility issues. The remainder of the issues may be a combination of the parents, along with other unexplained reasons. If you are having problems trying to conceive, it is crucial to check the fertility of both parents in order to pinpoint the problem. If you are under the age of 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for over a year, or over 35 and have been trying for six months, see a fertility specialist for help.

It is possible that there is a male factor making it difficult to conceive, which leads to the importance of finding out the root of the male’s infertility and what your various options are for proceeding from there.

Convincing Him to see a Doctor

Men do not often seek out medical attention on a regular basis, so the potential for having a male have a fertility check-up may be difficult. Difficulties getting a woman pregnant may make men feel like less of a man, however not taking the proper steps for a healthy pregnancy is even less manly than refusing to seek help. Infertility may not end up being the issue of the man, but if it is not addressed, it could cost the chance of having a child. Taking care of warning signals as they appear and not just brushing them off is important when trying to reproduce.

If your male partner is uncomfortable with the idea of a doctor’s visit, offer support by reminding him that you two are in this as a team. If the base of the infertility is due to the man or the woman, it ends up being a shared issue either way that the couple needs to address.

Male Infertility- What it is

Male infertility essentially ends in the fact that a male’s sperm is unable to fertilize a female’s egg. It is a condition where the male reproductive system and its production of sperm do not have the capacity to lead to the production of an embryo. While sometimes infertility of the male is the only problem for a couple who is ready to start a family, infertility may also be due to a combination of factors from both partners.

Causes of Male Infertility

There are several factors that could contribute to male infertility. For example, structural abnormalities of the male reproductive system that either partially or completely impede the flow of sperm can result in male infertility. These can be birth defects or blockages resulting from infections or surgeries.

Sperm production disorders can also affect male infertility. When sperm production is inhibited, the likelihood of a sperm reaching an egg decreases. Sperm production may decrease in men who have gone through the process of a vasectomy or men who have a varicocele, which can decrease sperm count and quality.

Sperm may also be prevented from reaching an egg if the male suffers from ejaculatory disturbances like impotence or retrograde ejaculation. Immunologic disorders such as the presence of anti sperm antibodies or endocrine disorders that affect the hormones may also prevent sperm from successfully meeting an egg.

Some males may also suffer from a dramatic decrease of sperm known as non-obstructive azoospermia. This can either result in no sperm at all or such few sperm that they go undetected. Obstructive azoospermia, however, occurs when sperm is produced, but is unable to be discharged or it is unable to eject, due to an obstruction.

Underlying Issues That Cause Male Infertility

An imbalance in male hormones can lead to male infertility as is does in women. Abnormal protactin or thyroid issues can impair the ability to reproduce. However, these problems are able to be solved by a doctor, so the male infertility is most likely corrected.

Toxins that come from cancer therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation may also cause male infertility by severely damaging the testicles. While men are often able to recover from this form of testicular damage, it could take several years. Some men, however, experience damage that is too severe and is beyond repair. In order to avoid this hurdle, young men who have been diagnosed with cancer are urged to freeze their sperm prior to undergoing cancer treatments.

In order to find out if there is an underlying health problem with a male, a doctor will do a full exam, including medical history. He can also talk to the male about other issues or factors that may be causing infertility.

The Diagnosis

Typically, male infertility is diagnosed with an analysis of the semen. The most common abnormality lies within the sperm. The semen sample will be tested for multiple factors including sperm count, volume of ejaculation, sperm mobility, and sperm morphology, which refers to the shape and size of the sperm.

While there are further tests that can be done, a semen analysis is the most telling when it comes to male infertility.

The Emotional Side

Male infertility may be emotional for some. It is important to encourage males to open up about their feelings about their infertility. Male infertility diagnoses are often shocking, as it is widely assumed that infertility problems are due to the female. Men may feel like their self-esteem or their self-image is harmed due to the fact that they are unable to impregnate a woman. They may feel as if society sees them as less of a man.

However, dealing with male infertility requires men to move past the idea that fertility equates to manhood. There are so many factors in fertility that all of the stars have to align just right in order to conceive.

Male Infertility and Relationships

The shared problem of infertility can be hard in a relationship. Men are likely to feel guilty if they are unable to give their wife a child, while a woman may feel both anger and guilt while trying not to place blame on their partner.

These feelings may result in withdrawing from on another, with both parties failing to communicate their true feelings as they do not want to argue. It is important to be sensitive to the other person and not place blame on either party. This stressful situation requires support on both sides and teamwork to get through.

Avoidance

Because there are lifestyle choices that increase the chance of infertility, such as hot tubs and tight underclothing, the chances of experiencing male infertility can be reduced with lifestyle changes.

Avoiding any heat production in the testicular and scrotal area is important. Keep the area cool and aired out by wearing boxers and avoiding prolonged exposure to hot water. Bike riding may also be problematic, not only due to tight riding shorts, but also the increase in body temperature that occurs when the male genitals are in close proximity to the body.

It is also important to avoid drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. These can strongly negatively affect the quality and quantity of sperm.

Treatment

There are various treatments, depending on the core issue. For example, in vitro fertilization is one option, as is washing the sperm in order to be used for alternative insemination treatments. Female hormone-stimulating drugs that treat female infertility are also able to help males. The drugs work similarly in men as they do in women, by helping the brain secrete hormones to increase the production of sperm.

If Treatments Don’t Work

There are options for couples who are unable to conceive naturally. These include egg or sperm donation, adoption, IVF, and surrogacy. Talk to your doctor to figure out the best plan for your family.