Infertility is a diagnosis given to couples who have been unsuccessful at conceiving after a year of trying. Infertility affects approximately 15% of all couples and within this group male infertility issues contribute to 30% of all cases.
During Men’s Health Month, Jamaica Hospital wants to provide information about male infertility and offer treatment options for those trying to conceive.
The most common cause of male infertility is a varicocele, which is an enlargement of the veins within the scrotum that holds the testicles. Varicoceles are a common cause of low sperm production and decreased sperm quality.
Other causes include:
- A blockage in your reproductive system
- Undescended testicles
- Sperm that are abnormally shaped or that don’t move correctly
- Hormone problems
- Certain health conditions, such as cancer
- An infection or sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Erectile dysfunction.
Sometimes the cause of male infertility is unknown. In these cases, it may be the result of genetics, lifestyle, or environmental factors.
A doctor can help find the cause of infertility. Your doctor will do an exam and review your medical history. A semen analysis will determine sperm count and quality. Another test your doctor may perform is a check of your hormone levels.
While you cannot always prevent male infertility, there are factors that can affect this condition that should be avoided. These include:
- alcohol or drug abuse
- emotional stress
- Frequent hot tub use or wearing tight fitting underwear.
More than half of male infertility cases can be corrected. Treatment options depend on the root cause. Medicine can improve hormone levels or erectile dysfunction. Surgery can help correct physical problems, such as a varicocele. It also can repair blockages or other damage. Surgery is often minor and done as an outpatient procedure.
In cases where infertility cannot be cured, your doctor may suggest a form of assisted reproductive therapy, such as:
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI). A man’s sperm is collected and inserted into the woman’s uterus. This procedure is done at the time of ovulation.
- In vitro fertilization (IVF). This technique is more complex. A man’s sperm and a woman’s egg are fertilized in the lab. Then it is implanted back in the woman’s uterus.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.