Incapability of a male to cause pregnancy in a fertile female is termed as male infertility. Generally, male infertility is caused due to deficiencies in the quality and quantity of the semen; abnormal sperm function; chronic health problems, lifestyle choices; etc.
Risk factors linked with male infertility are as follows:-
- Use of certain medications or undergoing some medical treatment.
- Alcohol and smoking.
- Past or present infections or any medical condition.
- Overheating of the testicles.
- Prior vasectomy (surgery done where the tubes that carry sperms from the testicles to the seminal vesicles are cut or tied).
- Prolonged bicycling.
Fertility may be impaired due to structural and other defects in the reproductive system, hormonal deficiencies, trauma or illness.
- Defective production and development of sperm.
- Certain infections may interfere with the quality and quantity of sperm.
- Antibodies attacking sperm.
- Decreased levels of hormones.
- Varicocele, dilated scrotal veins that impair sperm development.
- Retrograde ejaculation: Occurs when semen moves backwards into the bladder instead towards the penis.
- Undescended testicles (Failure of testicles to descend from the abdomen into the scrotum).
- Certain diseases affecting the release of hormones required for reproduction.
- Few medications can affect production and function of sperm.
- Damage of tubes (sperm ducts) that carry sperms.
- Chromosome defects.
- Conditions linked with sexual intercourse, such as erectile dysfunction (inability to sustain an erection during sexual activity), premature ejaculation, painful intercourse, hypospadias (condition where the opening of the urethra is on the underside of the penis, instead of at the tip) or psychological problems interfering with sex.
- Celiac diseases.
- Prior surgeries.
- Overexposure to certain chemicals, toxins or heat may decrease sperm production or function.
- Emotional stress.
Male infertility can be diagnosed by:–
- Detailed general physical examination and medical history.
- Semen analysis.
- Hormone Levels.
- Scrotal ultrasound.
- Transrectal ultrasound.
- Post-ejaculation urinalysis.
- Genetic tests.
- Testicular biopsy.
- Specialized sperm function tests.
Treatment depends on the cause of infertility. The options are:-
- Surgery – To correct varicocele or remove the obstruction.
- Treating infections.
- Treating sexual intercourse problems.
- Hormone medications.
- Assisted reproductive technology (ART) such as In vitro fertilization (IVF); Intrauterine insemination (IUI); Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and Testicular extraction of sperm (TESE).