Male infertility

Male Infertility – Causes and Treatments

February 27th, 2019 | 11:54 am

It is natural for couples to try and conceive at some point in their lives. Some people, however, face challenges in conceiving. Inability to attain pregnancy after regular intercourse for over a year is termed as infertility. This failure in attaining pregnancy may be due to infertility in males, females or due to unknown reasons. Male infertility is equally responsible as female infertility.

Infertility has always been a subject of taboo. The stigma associated with it makes it difficult to deal with it. It is vital to look at infertility as a disease/ condition which needs treatment and attention. Even with infertility, assisted reproductive technologies like IVF are a boon to the couples who are unable to conceive.

What is male infertility?

A couple conceiving a baby is a natural process. However, if the couple is unable to conceive after repeatedly having unprotected sex for over a year, then there may be some underlying reasons for the same. 30% of the times, pregnancy is not attained due to male infertility.
Due to male infertility, the couple is unable to conceive. It may be due to low sperm count, blockages that inhibit sperm delivery or abnormal sperm functions.

What are the signs of male infertility?

There are no obvious signs of male infertility. The major sign of male infertility is not being able to get a woman pregnant. In a few cases, however, some other underlying problem may show some signs. For issues like hereditary disorder, an imbalance in hormones dilated veins around the testicle or a condition that blocks the passage of sperm the following signs may be observed:

  • Pain, swelling or lump formation in the testicle area
  • Atypical breast growth
  • Reduced facial or body hair
  • A low sperm count or less seminal fluid ejection
  • Reduced sexual desire
  • Erectile dysfunction (difficulty in maintaining an erection)
  • Difficulty with ejaculation

What are the causes of male infertility?

Male infertility is caused by two major conditions:

  • Problems that affect sperm production
  • Problems that affect sperm movement

About two-thirds of males have a problem in sperm production. Around one in five males have a problem is sperm delivery function.

The known medical causes of male infertility are as follows:

  • Varicocele: It is a condition in which the veins that drain the testicle are swollen. As a result, the quality of sperm decreases. This is a common cause of infertility and can be treated.
  • Infection: Inflammation of the epididymis or testicles can interfere with sperm production, quality of sperm or motility of sperm due to blockages. Some sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea or HIV can also lead to infertility.
  • Ejaculation problems: A history of diseases like diabetes, medications, surgery of the urinary system, etc may cause ejaculation issues. In this, the semen enters the bladder instead of coming out of the tip of the penis. In such cases, sperms can be collected for IVF procedure to attain pregnancy.
  • Antibodies: In some men, the immune system attacks the sperms by mistaking them to be harmful to the body, thus eliminating them.
  • Tumours: Malignant or benign tumours are known to affect the male reproductive organs. Treatments of tumours like surgery, radiation or chemotherapy can deter male fertility.
  • Underdeveloped testicles: This condition occurs due to abnormal foetal development in which one or both testicles fail to develop or descend from the abdomen into the testes sac (scrotum).
  • Hormonal imbalances: If there occurs an imbalance in the hormones secretion from the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands, it may lead to infertility.
  • Defects of seminiferous tubules: Blocking of tubules due to injury, infections, trauma, tumours creates problems in the delivery of sperms.
  • Genetic defects: Hereditary disorders such as Klinefelter’s syndrome, Kallmann’s syndrome and Kartagener’s syndrome may result in abnormal development of reproductive organs.
  • Problems with sexual intercourse: Erectile dysfunction (trouble maintaining an erection) premature ejaculation, painful intercourse, anatomical abnormalities such as having a urethral opening beneath the penis (hypospadias), or psychological or relationship problems that interfere with sex.
  • Prior surgeries: Certain surgeries such as vasectomy, testicular surgeries may inhibit sperm ejaculation. In this case, sperms can be retrieved and can be used in assisted reproductive technology (ART) or IVF (In vitro fertilisation).
  • Environmental Causes: Overexposure to elements like harmful industrial chemicals, radiation or x-rays may induce infertility.
  • Lifestyle causes: Excessive abuse of alcohol, drugs, tobacco or obesity can affect sperm function and production. Even psychological issues like depression can affect fertility.

Treatments for male infertility:

With advanced technology, a number of treatments for male infertility are available. Some of the treatments are quick and painless too. The following are the treatments available:

  • Surgery: In case of varicoceles and blockages in seminiferous tubules, surgeries are performed to treat the varicose vein and to remove the blockages to reverse infertility.
  • Medication: In case of hormonal imbalances, hormonal treatment or medications are suggested.
  • Treatments for infection: Antibiotic treatment for infections and diseases like inflammation of the epididymis or testicles can cure infertility.
  • Psychological treatments: Counselling will solve problems of depression, erectile dysfunction and other such ailments.
  • IVF (or Assisted Reproductive Technology): The ultimate goal to treat the male infertility is to attain pregnancy. With IVF (In vitro fertilisation) sperms are collected and fertilised with female eggs. The resultant healthy embryo is placed in the uterus to attain pregnancy. The success rates of IVF are very high and is a popular treatment method for a couple to attain pregnancy.

About Omni Hospitals, Visakhapatnam:

The department of gynaecology at Omni Hospitals, Visakhapatnam is well-equipped with skilled doctors and sophisticated instrumentation for the IVF process. We have repeatedly displayed high success rates of IVF. We provide best and safe space for ideal experience for the couples undergoing IVF process.

About the doctor:

Dr Sridevi Nellimarla, OBGYN Specialist:

Dr Sridevi has a 5 years experience as an OBGYN specialist and 11 years experience as an OBGYN and Infertility Specialist. She has also worked as an IVF Jr. Physician from 2007-2013. After 2013, she has worked as an Infertility Specialist & OBGYN Specialist at her own clinic, Shree clinic and Omni Hospitals, Visakhapatnam.