There’s a common misconception that inability to conceive is a biologically female concern – and it can come as a surprise how often male infertility is actually the cause. In fact, in as many as 50% of couples struggling to conceive, male infertility is the cause. Recent reports are showing that the problem is getting worse.
But still, it’s less understood by the general public. Today, we’re diving into what the causes can be, what potential symptoms there may be and ultimately how a diagnosis can take place.
What Are The Causes of Male Infertility?
There are many things that can cause male infertility – from things like illness and injuries, to chronic health problems resulting in use of certain medications and overall lifestyle choices such as tobacco smoking and alcohol abuse. Also, there is adequate evidence to prove that Covid has impacted many men.
The issues with sperm can be roughly thought of as one of the following:
- Low/no sperm production
- Abnormal sperm function/motility or production/morphology
- Blockage that prevents the delivery of sperm
Some of these causes are genetic in origin. The good news is that men who otherwise could not have children are in fact reproducing thanks to modern fertility techniques. Unfortunately that means their fertility problem is passed on to the next generation.
What Are The Symptoms To Look Out For?
Of course, you might be thinking; the main sign of infertility is the inability to conceive a child – and you’re absolutely right. In some cases, there may not even be other obvious symptoms. But in others, depending on the cause, there will be.
Below are some of the common symptoms that could indicate male infertility:
- Impaired sexual function – this could be difficulty with ejaculation, or reduced sexual desire.
- Failure to conceive after 6-12 months
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicle area
- Decreased facial or body hair
- If you have been treated for low testosterone at a “men’s clinic”.
How Do You Get Diagnosed With Male Infertility?
If you believe you may be experiencing male infertility, or would like to confirm, then you begin with a semen analysis.
- Sperm count analysis. This can be performed at a Laboratory. You will need a doctor to order the test. At Fertility Partnership you can actually self refer and our doctor will order the test and it is performed in our lab. You will get an answer typically within 24-48 hours. It costs about $100.
- Blood tests. If your semen analysis is abnormal your provider may use blood tests to check your hormone levels and rule out other problems that are causing the male infertility.
- Ultrasound. Depending on what is seen through other diagnostic tests, imaging tests could be conducted to look at your testicles, blood vessels and scrotum.
Ultimately, if there’s one thing you take away from this today, it’s that you are not alone if you think you may be experiencing male infertility. This is a common situation and one that can usually be helped with modern techniques.