Infertility is a complex issue that brings many couples years of stress and frustration during a time that would otherwise be filled with love and happiness. About 13% of couples find they have difficulty conceiving when they begin trying to get pregnant. While a small number of these couples are eventually able to conceive through unprotected sex alone, the majority of couples who experience infertility will require medical support or interference to conceive. Making it hard to come to terms with infertility.
Natural conception can take time, even in cases when there are no identifiable fertility concerns. Infertility is not typically diagnosed or even explored until a couple has had difficulty conceiving for 12 consecutive months or longer. After one year, a fertility expert will help you and your loved one explore all aspects of potential fertility concerns, and this includes looking into potential issues from both partners. However, many couples are surprised to find out that more than one-third of all infertility cases are caused by the male partner, most frequently as a result of sperm production and delivery.
Identifying the Problem with Male Infertility
During natural conception, the male sperm is able to transport to the female egg and implant without any concerns. In issues of infertility, however, there are a few concerns that prevent the sperm from being fully able to complete this process. These include:
- Underdeveloped Sperm
- Oddly Shaped Sperm
- Inability to Move Correctly
- Oligospermia – which is a disorder that causes low sperm count
- Azoospermia – the lack of sperm present at all
These male fertility issues can develop for a number of reasons. For some men, these issues are hereditary, and concerns with conception may be something that is already known based on similar issues within the family. Sperm problems can be genetic, or certain lifestyle choices can impact the health and vitality of your sperm. Things like smoking, excessive drinking, and taking certain medications for a prolonged period of time can greatly decrease the health of your sperm. In addition, certain chronic disorders like kidney failure and severe childhood infections, like mumps and hormonal issues like low testosterone levels, can interrupt healthy sperm performance.
Additional Causes of Male Infertility
Outside of sperm related disorders, there are a number of issues that may be present to cause fertility concerns in men. For example, about 16% of men have a venous disease called varicoceles, which refers to swollen veins in the scrotum. While only 16% of men in the total population experience this concern, that number jumps up to about 40% of men who are diagnosed with infertility. These swollen veins will block sperm growth by preventing proper blood drainage. Other potential causes of male infertility can include:
- Retrograde Ejaculation: This occurs when the semen cannot properly ejaculate and ends up in the bladder.
- Immunologic Infertility: This occurs when the male’s body creates antibodies that attack his own sperm.
- Obstruction: Repeated infections, certain surgical procedures like a vasectomy, or even swelling can create a blockage that can prevent appropriate sperm delivery.
- Hormonal Issues: Very low hormone levels, especially testosterone levels, can impact sperm production.
- Chromosomes: If any part of the chromosomal structuring is off then the sperm may be unable to reach the egg.
Medications and Infertility
Prolonged medication usage can cause alterations to proper sperm production, function, and motility. If you are experiencing infertility and have been using medication long-term for the treatment of concerns like arthritis, depression, digestive concerns, infections, cancer or high blood pressure, then there is a chance that your medication could be interfering with your ability to conceive naturally. You can talk with your primary care physician to find out if adjusting your medications could help. Do not make any changes to your medication usage without first consulting with your physician.
Seeking Help From A Fertility Specialist
Conception takes time, and addressing fertility issues can also take time. The exact cause of male infertility can be difficult to diagnose. At Viera Fertility Clinic, we will conduct a physical exam and will analyze your medical history to determine what may be the core issue behind your fertility problems, then we will complete fertility testing to pinpoint the cause of your infertility. Don’t hesitate to begin researching your potential fertility issues today so that you can begin working on a healthy and happy family tomorrow. Contact us today to get started!