Male Infertility Treatments

Generally, when you hear about couples having issues with fertility, you hear about what the woman is doing, what she is going through (In Vitro Fertilization or IVF) because it’s thought that the issues come from the woman, and not the man.

But society is catching up and realizing that male fertility treatments are necessary as well because it might not be the woman that is having the issue, but the man.

It may not be something that is commonly discussed but couples are accepting the fact that the male might be the one experiencing infertility and are requiring treatment to help the couple become pregnant.

Knowing from whom the actual issue is coming from when dealing with infertility issues is important. You can’t treat half of a problem and expect positive results.

We have to look at the entire equation, meaning both parties, and determine if one or both of them is contributing to the issue at hand.

Both can be treated and then they have more of a chance of getting pregnant than if only one of them gets checked out.

Healthy Fertility in Men

If you don’t know how it works when it comes to fertility for men, here is a quick refresher. The issue can lie in any one of these areas which means that treating it correctly is important.

The sperm itself is created in the testicles and stored in the epididymis (think plumbing lines).

Sperm is then joined with semen along the trip to being ejaculated where about 150 million sperm (in a healthy man) [1] are on their journey to be the one to make the baby.

Potential Causes of Infertility

Male infertility is generally caused by issues with the sperm itself. Some of those issues could be that the male is developing lower sperm quality, has a lower sperm count, or no sperm whatsoever.

Nearly all the treatment options focus on ways to make the most of the sperm cells that are under examination. While the woman also is taken into consideration and tested as well, we do have to consider what effect the male is having when it comes to the couple getting pregnant.

For male infertility that is not treated, especially when it comes to the quality of the semen, there is less than a fifty percent possibility that pregnancy is going to happen.

Most of the time, there is an issue when it comes to making the sperm or getting it to where it’s supposed to go.

Some of the issues can include an undescended testicle, infection (with a subsequent fever), patients going through chemotherapy, genetic abnormalities, and hormonal issues. Medications can also be the cause of infertility.

Varicocele is the most common cause of infertility in the creation of sperm and is correctable as well [2].
While the above were depicting issues with creating sperm, there are also issues with the movement of sperm. This means it can’t get from point A to point B.

There is retrograde ejaculation where the ejaculate is going into the bladder instead of out of the body, absence of the vas deferens, which is the plumbing to move the sperm, a blockage, or anti-sperm antibodies, which attack the healthy sperm [3].

There are treatment options for many of the issues. Let’s take a look.

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Overview of Treatment

The treatments for male infertility problems vary from person to person depending on the root cause of the issue.

However, there are times that evidence-based solutions need to be used due to the inability to identify the crux of the problem. Each problem will come with its own solution and that is up to the determination of the doctor and what they feel the true issue is to the male’s infertility.

There are multiple ways to treat male infertility. Some are more invasive than others. The most radical would be a surgical procedure to repair or correct damaged reproductive organs or anatomic abnormalities.

This would be for those who are having issues not with the sperm or semen itself but with the physical structures that act as it’s delivery system.

Another, much simpler and less invasive treatment would be a medical procedure that would directly deliver sperm to the female. Additionally, there is also egg fertilization, which takes place inside a laboratory, and uses a third party to donate sperm.

What Route to Go, Depending on the Issue

Surgical Interventions

If the infertility problem stems from something physical such as varicose veins growing in the scrotum, surgery will be recommended to fix it. Another reason surgery might be the route you are going is to repair any blockage in the tubes that transport sperm.

Non-Surgical Interventions

If the problem is caused by hormones, the doctor can prescribe a hormone therapy to help the body get back to its optimal levels for sperm creation.

Artificial insemination of sperm cells combined with ovarian stimulation is a relatively simple procedure for the man where they are just needed for their deposit. After their sample is collected it’s manually placed in the uterus or fallopian tubes [4]. While for the man this is relatively simple, it will be more invasive for the woman.

In-vitro fertilization is becoming extremely popular as the ultimate option for couples who are able to spend money on extensive treatments. It is difficult to calculate the effectiveness of this treatment because there are no accurate parameters to base it on.

But this is, for many, their last resort, where they have tried everything. The sperm and the egg are fertilized in the lab and then places in the woman’s uterus [5]. Again, while this is painless for the male, the process that the woman goes through it significantly more trying.

Sperm donation is another option that some turn to when there is no sperm production at all. Donor sperm is used in this option and placed inside the woman through artificial insemination [6].

There are medications that can be used to treat certain issues affecting male fertility. This includes erectile dysfunction and hormone imbalances.

Otherwise, doctors typically recommend a well-balanced diet, moderate exercise, as well as wearing looser clothing such as boxers instead of tighty-whities as they are called.

Overall, the male infertility treatments cover a wide spectrum, from hormonal treatment to herbal remedies (which are not proven but if you want to go the natural route it can’t hurt to try).

And another consideration is that while it cannot be prevented if it’s something genetic or caused by an illness, there are ways to make you feel “more complete” by having a child and going through some of these routes. And if all else fails, there is always the beautiful option of adoption.

References

  1. Matthew Hoffman, M.D. via WebMD. Male Infertility Treatment: What you need to know about treatments for male infertility. [link]
  2. See above #1
  3. See above #1
  4. American Pregnancy Association. Male Infertility [link]
  5. See above #4
  6. See above #4
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