Statistics show that up to 50% of infertility problems among couples can be traced to male medical conditions. Nearly one in ten men will experience infertility. It is critical for men to be tested as soon as a couple realizes they are having trouble conceiving. At SRM, men with an abnormal semen test are evaluated by a fellowship-trained urologist with knowledge of male reproductive issues and experience in overcoming those issues.
Male infertility can be caused by a number of problems: blockage of the vas deferens (following vasectomy), abnormal hormones, varicocele (varicose veins of the testicle), testicular exposures, abnormal ejaculation, or abnormal erectile function. Our evaluation includes a detailed history, physical exam, and semen analysis. Further testing may include endocrine labs (blood drawn), an ultrasound, or genetic testing. Depending on the cause of male infertility, we treat patients with a combination of lifestyle changes, medications, and sometimes surgery. Our goal is to do everything we can to maximize a couple’s ability to achieve a pregnancy.
Approximately half of all infertility is caused by sperm abnormalities, with the majority of cases due to a chromosome abnormality such as aneuploidy or structural chromosome abnormality. Men carrying a balanced translocation chromosome are at risk of producing sperm with a structural chromosome abnormality. Research has shown that approximately 3% to 8% of sperm from normal, fertile men are aneuploid. In contrast, between 27% and 74% of sperm from men with severe infertility (i.e. low sperm count, low motility, poor morphology) are aneuploid.
Y chromosome deletions are found in approximately 5% to 20% of males with a very low sperm count. These deletions appear to impair normal sperm development. While these deletions do not necessarily cause any genetic disease, it appears to decrease the chance of men with a low sperm count to successfully fertilize eggs. Couples with infertility due to male factor should consider chromosome analysis on the male reproductive partner’s sperm prior to IVF.
How Common is it for Men to Face Infertility?
Dr. Tom Walsh talks with King5 about Men’s Health, “With good general health, comes better fertile health.”