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Infertility is a complex and emotionally challenging issue that affects couples around the world. While it is often assumed that infertility is solely a female problem, male infertility is a significant contributing factor in roughly 40% of all infertility cases.
Fortunately, advancements in medical science have led to a range of effective treatments for male infertility, from medications to assisted reproductive technologies (ART). In this blog, we will explore the various treatment options available to address male infertility, providing valuable information for couples seeking to overcome this hurdle on their path to parenthood.
What Causes Male Infertility
Before delving into the treatments, it is crucial to understand what causes male infertility. Let’s take a quick look at all the primary causes of male infertility.
1. Low Sperm Count
Low sperm count, medically known as oligospermia, is a common cause of male infertility. It occurs when the sperm level in the semen ejaculated by the male is below the normal level. Typically, 15 million sperm per ml of semen is considered to be a healthy sperm count. Sperm count lower than this threshold can make it difficult for the male to impregnate a female partner by natural means.
The low sperm count reduces the chances of the sperm reaching and fertilizing an egg.
2. Abnormal Sperm Morphology
Abnormal Sperm Morphology, also known as teratozoospermia, is a condition where a significant portion of the male’s sperm has unusual shapes, structures, or abnormalities. Sperm with abnormal morphology may have difficulty penetrating the egg and fertilizing it, contributing to the infertility in the said male.
3. Poor Sperm Motility
Medically known as asthenozoospermia, poor sperm motility is a condition where the sperm has motility issues, or in simpler terms, has difficulty in moving properly. Sperm motility plays a vital role in male fertility because the sperm must be able to swim vigorously to reach and fertilize the egg. The sperm not being able to move properly, resulting in not being able to fertilize an egg results in male infertility.
Blockages in the male reproductive tract can be a significant cause of infertility in males. These blockages that may be caused by vasectomy or infections, prevent the sperm from reaching the semen, reducing or completely preventing the presence of sperm when they ejaculate. Blockages make it almost impossible for the egg to be fertilized by natural means.
5. Hormonal Imbalances
Hormones play a pivotal role in regulating the various aspects of the male reproductive system, including sperm production, maturation, and function. Hormonal imbalances, including low testosterone levels, disrupt this delicate system, leading to male fertility problems.
6. Genetic Factors
Genetic factors play an extremely important role in male infertility. Genetic abnormalities or mutations affect various aspects of the male reproductive system, including sperm production, sperm function, and structure of the reproductive organs.
Proven Treatments for Male Infertility
There are a number of proven treatments for male infertility that aim to address the underlying causes of the condition or provide an alternative pathway towards successful conception. Common medical treatments for male fertility issues include lifestyle changes, medication, and Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART).
These male infertility treatments improve the sperm quality, sperm quantity, sperm function, or assist in fertilization.
Which treatment is best suited for a patient depends on their individual diagnosis and other conditions, and is determined by a fertility specialist only after a complete series of consultation and tests wherever required.
Let’s explore a list of treatment options for male infertility.
Before considering medical interventions, it’s essential to address lifestyle factors that may contribute to male infertility. These include maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding excessive alcohol and tobacco use, managing stress, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, and practicing safe sex to prevent sexually transmitted infections that could damage the reproductive system.
Hormone therapy medication can be used as a treatment for male infertility when hormonal imbalance is contributing to the fertility problem. These medications work towards restoring or optimizing the hormone levels within the body, improving sperm production, sperm quality, and overall fertility.
Your fertility specialist will prescribe you the best suited medication after consultation, diagnosis, and considering all aspects of your case.
Antibiotics may be prescribed as a treatment option for male infertility when an inflammation or an infection in the reproductive tract may be causing the male fertility issues. In such cases, timely medication in the right dosage can eliminate the infection and easily restore the male fertility.
Some medications, like antioxidants and vitamins, may be prescribed by a fertility doctor to improve the sperm quality and motility in the patient struggling with male infertility. Dietary supplements that include vitamins, minerals, or antioxidants may be prescribed when specific nutritional deficiencies are identified through medical tests or blood works.
Varicoceles are enlarged veins in the scrotum that can raise the temperature in the testicles, resulting in decreased sperm production, quality, and motility. Varicocele Repair is a surgical treatment commonly used when a varicocele is identified as a potential contributing factor. This surgery to repair varicoceles can improve sperm count and motility. However, its effectiveness may vary, and it is essential to discuss the procedure and its potential benefits and risks with a qualified healthcare provider.
Vasectomy Reversal is a surgical procedure that can restore fertility in men who have previously undergone a vasectomy. During a vasectomy, the as deferens, the ducts that carry the sperm from the testicles to the urethra are blocked to prevent the release of sperm. The vasectomy reversal procedure reconnects the vas deferens, allowing the sperm to flow and enabling restoring the fertility. This is a viable option for those who want to restore their fertility after a vasectomy. However, whether or not this is a suitable option can only be determined by a fertility expert specialized in male fertility.
Ejaculatory Duct Blockage Repair
Ejaculatory Duct Blockage Repair is a surgical procedure to treat obstruction in the ejaculatory ducts that may be preventing release of seminal fluid into the urethra at ejaculation. This obstruction can result in male infertility and problems in natural conception. The success of this procedure may vary with every case and the decision to undergo it should be made only after consultation with a fertility specialist.
Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)
When conservative treatments are unsuccessful or not applicable, ART procedures can be highly effective for male infertility. Let’s take a look at these procedures –
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
Intrauterine Insemination or IUI is a male fertility treatment option that involves artificial placement of the sperm directly into the uterus at the time of the female partner’s fertile window. This technique is especially helpful when the sperm needs assistance reaching the egg for fertilization.
Get details on IUI cost in Noida and get started with your consultation with the best fertility specialist in Noida.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
In Vitro Fertilization or IVF is a widely used ART for treating male infertility, especially when other alternative methods like IUI have not been suitable or successful. IVF involves fertilization of the egg with the sperm outside the body and implantation of the fertilized embryo into the uterus.
Get details on IVF cost in Noida and get started with your consultation with the best fertility specialist in Noida.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection or ICSI is an advanced ART method used to treat male infertility. This method is ideal in cases of severe sperm-related problems that make conception by natural means or a standard IVF, extremely difficult. ICSI involves direct injection of a single sperm cell into an egg to facilitate fertilization.
Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESA)
Testicular Sperm Extraction or TESA is a surgical procedure that involves direct retrieval of the sperm from the testicles of a man with severe infertility issues. This method is usually adopted in cases of Azoospermia, which is the absence of sperm in the ejaculate. TESA is ideal in cases of extremely low sperm count or extremely poor sperm motility. The retrieved sperm is then used for various ARTs like ICSI or IVF for a successful pregnancy.
Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (PESA)
Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration or PESA is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that retrieves sperm from the epididymis. Epididymis is a tube located at the back of the testicle where sperm mature and are stored. PESA is usually recommended when there is a blockage in the male reproductive tract. This procedure is relatively less invasive compared to other sperm retrieval procedures, making it a preferred option when applicable.
Microdissection Testicular Sperm Extraction (Micro TESE)
Micro TESE is a surgical procedure for severe male infertility, where there is impaired sperm production within the testicles. Unlike a conventional TESA, Micro TESE uses high-powered surgical microscopes to identify and selectively extract sperm from the tiny and less damaged areas of the testicular tissue. The precision of this procedure maximizes the chances of finding viable sperm and minimizes the possibility of damage to the testicular tissue.
In situations where the male partner’s sperm quality is irreparably compromised, couples may opt for donor sperm as a means of achieving pregnancy. This involves using sperm from a sperm bank or a known donor for fertility treatments, typically in cases where the male partner’s sperm quality or quantity is insufficient for natural conception as well as ARTs.
While Genetic Counseling itself does not treat male infertility directly, the method plays an important role in helping couples understand the underlying genetic factors contributing to male infertility and make informed decisions regarding the treatments or ARTs they can choose in order to build a family together.
Male infertility can be a daunting obstacle on the journey to parenthood, but it is not insurmountable. Thanks to advancements in medical science, there are various treatment options available, ranging from lifestyle changes and medications to surgical interventions and assisted reproductive technologies.
The choice of treatment depends entirely on the specific case, the cause of male infertility, and the couple’s individual circumstances.
It’s essential for couples facing male infertility to seek advice from a qualified and experienced fertility specialist who can assess the underlying causes and recommend the most suitable treatment plan.
Additionally, seeking emotional support and counseling can help couples cope with the challenges and stress associated with infertility. Remember, while infertility may present obstacles, there are many pathways to parenthood, and with the right guidance and support, couples can realize their dream of building a family.