Diagnosis & treatment of infertility disorder in men

One third of all infertility cases have been linked solely to issues with the male partner. Male infertility is a condition where the male in a relationship affects the child bearing ability of the woman. When couples are not able to conceive even after having unprotected sex over a long period of time, it is important that men get screened for fertility as well as women.

Male fertility may be impaired by a number of factors. These include:

  • Sperm production problems: The quality and quantity of sperm are the key factors to male fertility. Any defect such as immature sperm or low sperm count (oligospermia) can lead to infertility.
  • Varicoceles: This is a condition characterized by swelling of the veins that supply the testicle.
  • Backward ejaculation of the sperm
  • Blockage of the sperm carrying ducts
  • Development of sperm antibodies (auto-immune disorder)
  • Hormonal/stress problems
  • Infections/tumours of the male reproductive system
  • Genetics (chromosomal disorders)
  • Sexual problems
  • Use of certain medications such as steroids
  • Excessive radiation exposure affects the sperm production.
  • Work related causes (example: laptop use elevates the temperature of the testes leading to low sperm production)
  • Smoking and alcohol abuse

A diagnosis is often made by your doctor based on the following: 

  • Medical history
  • Complete physical examination
  • Semen analysis:  This is a laboratory test carried out to assess the sperm count and quality. The test sample is obtained by ejaculating into a sterile bottle.
  • Transrectal ultrasound of the prostate: It is an investigation carried out to evaluate the prostate gland and detect any obstruction of the ducts that transport the sperm.
  • Scrotal ultrasound: This is an imaging test to diagnose abnormalities of the scrotum or testicles.
  • Testicular biopsy: A small piece of tissue is removed from the testicle using a sterile needle and sent for evaluation under a microscope to help determine the cause of infertility.
  • Anti-sperm antibody tests to trace the antibodies that attack sperm.

 

With the advancements in medical technology, it is now possible to treat this condition. Treatment options include

  • Surgery: Surgery is indicated in cases of varicocele and obstruction of the sperm duct to improve the sperm motion.
  • Medications: Antibiotics are prescribed to treat infections of the reproductive system.
  • Treatment for sexual problems: Counselling about sex and relationships can help boost fertility levels.
  • Male hormone replacement therapy may be used to treat hormonal deficiency.
  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART): These are revolutionary treatment procedures that can help couples with infertility problems to conceive. Some of them include in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) methods.
  • Lifestyle modification: These include changing habits such as not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and using stress reduction techniques.