Male Factor Infertility and Treatment: What Couples Need to Know
When a couple suspects that a fertility issue could be responsible for their inability to conceive, more often than not, the female partner is the first to consult with her gynecologist and perhaps with a fertility specialist. The male partner is can be disregarded or unconsidered until the female partner has undergone testing, which can take weeks or months to complete. This time is valuable and should be taken advantage of by fertility patients.
Why men need to be part of the equation from the start
So why is the male partner an afterthought in the fertility testing process? Statistically, the male partner is just as likely to be responsible for the inability to conceive – 1/3 of infertility cases are male factor, 1/3 are female factor and 1/3 are unexplained. Many fertility specialists point to the societal influence on stigmas associated with male infertility – men are resistant to testing because they fear having to acknowledge issues with sperm health.
In 2017, women are more likely to be fully aware of how age can impact fertility by the time they reach their 20s, as well as how their lifestyle choices can affect fertility (obesity, tobacco use, alcohol intake, STDs, etc.). These messages rarely reach their male partners, who can be unaware of their fertility status until they start trying to build their families.
What can cause male infertility?
- Spinal injury
- Groin injury
- Hernia repair complications
- Steroid use
- Mumps (post-puberty)
- Certain STDs, especially if left untreated
- Low hormone levels (testosterone, prolactin, etc.)
- Previous treatment for cancer (radiation, chemotherapy)
- Illegal drug use
What does a semen analysis reveal?
The first step in male fertility testing is typically a semen analysis. A semen analysis will determine the male partner’s sperm count; the motility of his sperm (how well it moves, or “swims”); the sperm’s velocity, size and shape; total volume; and liquefaction (can it change from a gel state to a liquid state?).
How is male infertility treated?
Each case is different, but common treatments for cases of male infertility include:
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)/in vitro fertilization (IVF
- Hormone medications
- Surgical options
- Genetic testing
What do I need to do?
If you believe a fertility issue may be present, please talk to your physician about the need for testing for both partners during a fertility consultation. Your fertility specialist will welcome questions and provide a recommendation as to whether testing is needed for one or both partners based on your personal and familial histories.
Contact Chicago IVF today to schedule a consultation.