What is Infertility?
Infertility is a condition that is defined as the failure to conceive after one year of regular intercourse without contraception or the inability of a woman to carry a pregnancy to live birth.
Infertility can affect either the male or the female and can result from a number of causes. About 1 in every 10 couples is infertile, or somewhere between 10-15% of the population. It is also recognized as a disease by the World health organization(WHO).
A man suffers from infertility if the semen that he ejaculates contains less number of sperms or if the sperm is of low quality. Some of the studies suggest that the male partner alone is infertile in about 20% of cases and that both partners have fertility problems about 30% of the time. Therefore, the male partner plays a role in about half of all couples that have difficulty conceiving a child. In about 15% of cases, infertility tests are completely normal in both partners, even then they cannot conceive a child.
What is Infertility in men?
Infertility in men is defined as the inability of a man to impregnate his partner after regular intercourse without contraception.
Signs and Symptoms of infertility in men
- Difficulty with sexual function
- Pain, swelling, or a lump in the testicle areas
- Abnormal breast growth (gynecomastia or man boobs)
- Decreasing facial or body hair
- A sperm count lower than normal
- Abnormality of hormone levels in the body
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Diagnosis of infertility in men
Different types of tests are done to understand the sexual functions and then the recommendations are made after these tests. The different fertility tests for males to test infertility in them are
- Semen Analysis: In semen analysis, the doctor diagnoses the specimen of semen and in some of the cases, sperm is also tested to test infertility.
- Hormone testing: A blood test can be done to determine the level of male hormones and testosterone and so can conclude about the fertility in men.
- Genetic testing: Genetic testing is done to check if there is any genetic effect or hereditary problem regarding infertility.
- Testicular biopsy: Testicular biopsy is done to check the abnormalities which contribute to infertility.
- Another specialty testing: These specialty tests are done to evaluate sperm quality and low sperm count or quality can lead to infertility in men.
Causes of infertility in men
- Undescended testicles: During fetal development, one or both testicles sometimes fail to descend from the abdomen into the sac that normally contains the testicles (scrotum). Decreased fertility is more likely in men with this condition.
- Hormone imbalances: The hypothalamus, pituitary, and testicles produce hormones that are necessary to create sperm. Alterations in these hormones, as well as from other systems such as the thyroid and adrenal gland, may impact sperm production which can, in turn, lead to infertility in men.
- Ejaculation problems: Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen enters the bladder during orgasm instead of emerging out of the tip of the penis. Various health conditions can cause retrograde ejaculation or lack of ejaculation, including diabetes, spinal injuries, and surgery of the bladder, prostate or urethra. Certain medications also might result in ejaculatory problems, such as blood pressure medications known as alpha-blockers. Some ejaculatory problems can be reversed, while others are permanent. In most cases of permanent ejaculation problems, sperm can still be retrieved directly from the testicles.
- Prior surgeries: Certain surgeries might prevent you from having sperm in your ejaculate, including vasectomy, inguinal hernia repairs, scrotal or testicular surgeries, prostate surgeries, and large abdominal surgeries performed for testicular and rectal cancers, among others.
In most cases, surgery can be performed to either reverse these blockages or to retrieve sperm directly from the epididymis and testicles.
- Drug and Alcohol abuse: Drugs and alcohol are the major cause of infertility in men as anabolic steroids taken to stimulate muscle strength and growth can cause the testicles to shrink and sperm production to decrease. The use of cocaine or marijuana might reduce the number and quality of your sperm as well.
Drinking alcohol can lower testosterone levels and cause decreased sperm production which in turn affects fertility in men.
- Overexpose to specific environmental conditions: Certain environmental conditions like pesticides or other chemical radiations affect infertility in males.
- Consumption of herbs: If the infertility is due to hormone imbalances then consumption of herbs like red raspberry leaf, nettle leaf, dandelion, alfalfa, red clover, maca, and chaste tree berry also helps to cure infertility.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a kind of Chinese therapy in which a small needle is inserted in a specific spot to check the blood flow. Acupuncture helps in many ways like relieving the stress level, hormone balancing, making blood flow in the reproductive organs, etc.
- Yoga: Yoga helps to treat infertility in males as it relieves the stress level of the body and helps in increasing the sperm quality. If there is a low sperm count in males, the main cause can be depression and anxiety. Yoga helps in combating mental health which helps to cure infertility.
- Ayurveda: Infertility can also be cured with the help of Ayurveda as it helps the body to strengthen and balance mechanisms and does not rely on external substances or agents.
- Homeopathy: For a couple facing problems in conceiving, homeopathy is a great help. Homeopathy infertility works as a safe, effective, and painless method. It leads towards a healthy way of natural pregnancy.
- Surgery: Surgery can help counter the problem if it is due to sperm flow issue, a varicocele can often be surgically corrected or an obstructed vas deferens can be repaired. Prior vasectomies can be reversed. In cases where no sperm are present in the ejaculate, sperm can often be retrieved directly from the testicles or epididymis using sperm retrieval techniques.
- Intrauterine insemination: This is a kind of assisted reproductive technique in which the semen sample is collected and then treated in a laboratory to improve the likelihood that the sperm can produce a pregnancy. The sperm is then injected into the female partner’s uterus when she is ovulating. This may or may not be accompanied by hormonal treatment of the female partner.
- In Vitro fertilization: This is also an ART where eggs are removed surgically from the female partner, combined with the sperm of the male partner in the laboratory, and then surgically replaced in the uterus.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection: Intracytoplasmic injection the most recent innovation in assisted reproduction used for male infertility, individual sperm are harvested from the testicles and injected into single eggs. Even men with very abnormal sperm production can have success with this technique.
- Hormone treatments and medications: Hormone replacement or medications is recommended in cases where infertility is caused by high or low levels of certain hormones or problems with the way the body uses hormones.