MALE INFERTILITY AND TREATMENT OPTIONS
For some perverse reason, women have been traditionally held responsible for every instance of infertility problems, when in actual truth, men are responsible for every third case of infertility and are involved in one way or the other in half the total cases! A diagnosis of infertility can be devastating to the male ego as not being able to father a child makes him feel as if he is losing out in fulfilling his primal responsibilities of procreation.
Up to 15% of couples are unable to conceive a child even after having unprotected intercourse for a year or longer. In men infertility may be due to low or abnormal sperm production or blockages in vessels that deliver sperms; unhealthy lifestyles, chronic health issues as well as injuries may also be involved in male infertility. Quite often, the exact cause of infertility cannot be identified and not being able to conceive becomes very stressful.
To understand male infertility better, here is a small refresher on the ‘birds and the bees’…. The essential elements, the sperms, are made in the testicles and stored inside the tubular mass call the epididymitis; they are nourished by semen, and when the ‘magic moment’ arrives, about 150 million sperm cells are ejaculated out in about half a teaspoon of semen. The controllers of these events are the testosterone hormones in coordination with timely signalling from the nervous system. Any abnormalities along the way could result in male infertility.
Modern medicine has advanced enough to provide solutions to even the most complex of problems and many aspects of male infertility are treatable. The first step is to check the female partner also after which appropriates steps can be considered. Treatment options for male infertility include:
Problems are usually in making or in moving the sperms. Hormone replacement therapy might be prescribed in case of high or low levels of certain hormones. This includes gonadotropin treatment that involves injections of hCG and/or rhFSH over a period of a year or two before success can be achieved.
This is usually for varicocele correction; varicocele presents as a bulge in the vein of the scrotum that leads to abnormal sperms. However, surgery isn’t always successful and not recommended routinely. It could be related to higher temperatures or poor oxygen or blood supply to the testicles. Obstructions to the vas deferens can also be repaired for better sperm delivery.
Treating existing infections
Sometimes infections hinder intercourse and pregnancy. Antibiotics may heal the infection, but not the fertility though. Some viral infections are known to induce infertility too.
Sometimes medications can help in improving problems like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
Assisted reproduction technology
In this format, sperms can be retrieved through masturbation or surgically from the man and used for artificial insemination or for in vitro fertilization treatment.
Where these types of artificial reproductive options also don’t work out, men are usually told to continue trying under their own steam.