Infertility is defined as a couple’s inability to become pregnant after a year of regular and unprotected sex. According to reports, an estimated 15% of couples in North America and Europe are grappling with infertility. What is male infertility? Many couples that have long hoped to become parents often find themselves struggling to reproduce. Infertility is the main reason they have been unable to have children.
Studies have shown that men are the cause of one-third of infertility cases. Infertility in men is defined as the inability of a man to get a fertile female pregnant after having frequent and unprotected intercourse for a year.
At some point in life, all men may be forced to assess their ability to reproduce. But today, even younger men find themselves grappling with these questions. The stress of work pressure and maintaining a certain lifestyle is taking its toll on men and causing several health issues. Infertility is one of them. There are various other causes that may lead to infertility in men, including low testosterone and obesity, to name a few.
What causes male infertility? Low sperm count is regarded as one of the foremost causes of male infertility. However, low sperm count only affects 1% of all men and 10 to 15% of infertile men. These are the various other causes of male infertility:
- Physical reasons:
- Ageing: As men age, achieving pleasure in sexual intercourse becomes difficult, and at times, painful, which is why age can be a cause of infertility.
- Obesity: overweight men can have poor sperm quality as compared to men of healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can also cause hormonal changes that reduce fertility and make men less interested in sex. Men who are very overweight are also more likely to have problems getting an erection.
- Varicocele: it is an abnormal enlargement of the spermatic veins that carry blood from testicles to the abdomen. This abnormal enlargement produces a one-way valve in the veins that causes the backflow of blood from the abdomen to scrotum as a result of which an unreceptive environment for the sperms is created. This reduces the sperm count, disturbs the sperm morphology and finally leads to infertility.
- Psychological problems:
Stress can cause infertility. Many men take on a lot of work and other responsibilities to fulfill dreams for their family, which may create undue pressure for them and affect their sexual performance.
- Hormonal problems:
Low levels of testosterone, a hormone produced by the testicles, can also be a cause of infertility.
- Injury or work environment:
Testicular injury can cause infertility in men- Also, exposure to high temperature, hazardous chemicals or radiation may also impact testosterone production ability.
Also Read: Reasons for male infertility – Know the cause inside out
Things you should aware of
- Female infertility is easier to understand as compared to male infertility issues because a majority of female infertility problem is known. Infertility in men is tough to acknowledge at the early stages which lead to delay in male infertility treatment.
- Stress is a rising factor for infertility in India. Stress at work due to long working hours with unpredictable timings are major factors for stress-related infertility. However, stress-related infertility is completely irreversible, your chances of conceiving can increase by adopting stress management techniques.
- Sometimes nutritional deficiencies could contribute to infertility issues. One should keep an eye on the nutritional deficiencies and maintain a healthy body by eating a balanced diet. You should know the best fertility food and take all the essential nutrients in moderation to improve fertility after consulting your physician. Getting a fertility diet on regular basis is itself a natural male infertility treatment.
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is necessary for fertility. According to various research studies, a majority of infertility cases in both men and women are occurring due to poor lifestyle. So it is necessary to adopt healthy lifestyle habits and leave bad habits such as smoking alcohol consumption, obesity and not indulging in any kind of physical activity.
Also Read: How to tackle infertility
Diagnosing infertility in men
Treatment of infertility is a significant challenge. For male infertility treatment, it is important to first diagnose its cause. Here are various methods of diagnosis that a health care professional can use to determine the exact condition:
- Physical examination and medical history This is the first step in determining fertility status. The physician may examine your genitals and question you about inherited conditions, health problems, injuries, surgeries and illnesses that may affect fertility.
- Semen analysis A semen analysis testis also done to determine infertility in men. Ejaculated semen is collected in a special container and the sperm is examined for abnormalities in shape (morphology) and movement (motility). If the doctor finds your sperm quality normal, he/she may recommend your partner be tested before asking you to undergo any more infertility tests.
- Testicular biopsy Using a needle, your doctor will perform a testicular biopsy. The results of the test can tell if sperm production is normal or not.
Treatment for male infertility
- There are numerous ways in which infertility in men can be treated. These include:
- Watch your weight- Shedding the pounds will help improve sperm count and movement.
- Treating infections- various antibiotics are available to treat infections but these medications do not always re-establish fertility.
- Yoga and meditation- To treat infertility in men, doctors recommend meditation and yoga as both are good for mental relaxation.
- The frequency of intercourse- Couples are advised to increase the frequency of sexual intercourse as it may improve their chances of conceiving.
- Surgery- Procedures that unblock tubes that have been damaged due to infections, tract blockages, and varicocele can also reverse infertility in men.
- In-Vitro Fertilization- IVF is an effective but expensive treatment for conceiving an egg that is fertilized by sperm outside a woman’s body. If men want this treatment to work effectively for them, they have to quit smoking.
While infertility is a major setback for couples, advancements in medical science offer renewed hope. You can schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist to tackle your infertility problem head-on.