Search
 
 

Male Infertility:

What Couples Trying to Conceive Should Know

Infertility is a very common problem experienced by many reproductive-aged couples. In general, about 15-20% of couples will not conceive after one year of trying. After one year, couples should strongly consider pursuing a fertility evaluation. While much focus has been placed upon factors related to female causes of infertility, we know now that anywhere from 25-35% of couples that experience problems conceiving do so because of a male factor. Thus, it is very important that the male partner be screened early on in the fertility evaluation process.

Screening for male factor infertility is very straightforward. The initial evaluation consists of a semen analysis that can be ordered by your doctor. The sample is collected either in the doctor’s office or in the privacy of your home. The specimen is evaluated under a microscope by specially trained clinicians who closely examine the sperm. The sperm in the sample are evaluated in terms of total number, movement (motility), and how normal the sperm look (morphology). Based on this Screening semen analysis, it can be determined by your doctor whether any further testing or physician referral is necessary.

Abnormal semen analyses can result from a variety of causes, including problems related to anatomical, hormonal, genetic, or infectious causes. In many cases, male causes of infertility can be overcome with simple medical treatment. In other cases, a surgical approach to the problem can lead to the formation of normal sperm.

When medical or surgical approaches are not possible, even the most significant cases of male infertility can still be overcome. When the number of sperm is extremely low, an individual sperm can be injected into the female’s egg by a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI); this procedure is performed in conjunction with stimulating the eggs of the female partner with fertility medicines, followed by removal of the eggs, and then fertilization of the eggs with ICSI. This revolutionary technique is now used quite frequently to help couples conceive who otherwise would not have been able to have their own genetic children.

Infertility can be extremely frustrating and stressful to couples trying to conceive. It is very important for couples to know that they should seek the care of a physican and possible referral to a fertility doctor if they have not conceived after 6-12 months of trying. Male factor infertility is a very common cause of infertility, and the male partner should be evaluated right at the start of the evaluation. Fortunately, virtually all cases of male infertility can be overcome using the basic to the more advanced treatment options available.