Male Infertility Causes & Symptoms – Let’s Destigmatize It!

Male Infertility Causes & Symptoms – Let’s Destigmatize It!

There are so many questions asked over the years about infertility in general and male infertility is a part of the discussion too, it is a health issue in men that lowers the chances of his female partner getting pregnant. It’s crucial to understand male infertility to quickly narrow down potential fertility-related problems.

Male infertility is a disease of the reproductive system affecting a man. When facing with male infertility issue, you will have a problem to start a pregnancy with your female partner. You may have that if your female partner has not become pregnant after you have had tried for one year, this means one year of regular sex without any birth control involved.

Men’s part in fertilization is quite amazing and as nature would have it, problems with infertility are equally due to male and female conditions and statistics suggest that male infertility issues contribute to 40% of all cases. Sometimes the cause of it is unknown too, in these cases, it may be the results of genetics, lifestyle, or environmental factors.

Continue reading this blog to impart information about male infertility!

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The Facts About Male Infertility

Men, across most demographic groups, have limited and bounded knowledge of the various factors that are associated with male infertility, and also studies of both men and women have found that men are comparatively less knowledgeable about issues of fertility and reproductive health. A fertility professional can always help you to find the cause of infertility and treatment options available. More than half of male infertility cases can be corrected and treatment options depend on the root cause of an individual.

In about half of all infertility cases, a male factor is involved, but the good news is that 90 percent of cases of male infertility can be successfully treated. A fertility specialist can provide big-picture advice.

How is Male Infertility Evaluated?

The purpose of a male evaluation is to identify problematic conditions when present to assess the male’s fertility health. The initial male infertility evaluation starts with a medical and reproductive history, also semen analysis (sperm counts) included. If any abnormalities are found in the initial evaluation, then the man should see a male reproductive specialist. Your specialist will recommend you if any further testing is needed. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and allow your fertility doctor to tell you where you stand with regards to fertility.

General physical examination and medical history includes examining your genitals and asking questions about any inherited conditions, health problems, illnesses, injuries, or surgeries that could affect fertility, questions about your sexual habits and about your sexual development during puberty could be asked.

Male Infertility & Its Causes?

The most common issues that lead to infertility in men are problems that affect how the testicles work, other problems are hormone imbalances or blockages or absence of some of the ducts in the male reproductive organs. Lifestyle and age-related factors also play a role in male infertility. About two-thirds of infertile men have a problem where they make low numbers of sperm or sperm that don’t function properly and sometimes, the problem is simply genetic. The most common genetic causes of infertility are chromosomal conditions that affect the way that sperm is produced.

Common causes of infertility in men: unhealthy lifestyle, trauma to testes, certain medical conditions, hormonal disorders, use of certain medications, varicoceles (a common cause of low sperm production and decreased sperm quality). There is an association between varicoceles and male infertility, approximately 10 percent of men have varicoceles- among infertile couples, the incidence of varicoceles increases to 30 percent.

Note: The foremost sign of male infertility is that you are unable to be a father naturally, or you may experience certain other signs such as low sperm count, problems with sexual function, inherited disorder, ejaculation problems, discomfort in the testicle area, inability to smell and dilated veins around the testicle, etc.

A recent study shows that there are several causes of male infertility that we can divide into several categories, these are medical causes including varicocele, certain infections leading to low sperm count, undescended testicles, chromosome defects, prior surgeries, celiac disease, and antibodies that attack sperm. The environmental category includes: excess heat, toxicants, heavy metal exposure, industrial chemicals, radiation, smoking, and high temperature and health, lifestyle category includes: drug use such as over-consumption of alcohol or smoking, unhealthy weight, emotional stress, depression, poor eating habits, and physical inactivity.

Genetic causes of male infertility: Mutations inside the genes that determine the male sex, called the Y-chromosome, other irregular changes in the genes. For instance, some men have a condition called Klinefelter’s XXY syndrome in which they have an extra copy of the female-sex determining genes (the X chromosome) and hormonal issues, such as diabetes, high levels of the milk-producing hormone prolactin, or problems with the hormone-producing organs like the thyroid or adrenal gland.

Facing the possibility of infertility can be emotionally taxing for men as it is for women. It is important for men to have a support system of their partner as they go through testing and treatments to determine their options and pursue solutions.

The Importance of Semen Analysis in Male Infertility Treatment

Before investing in complicated fertility treatments, it is a better idea to pursue with a relatively simple semen analysis test, it is a test of a man’s sperm and semen and is also called a seminogram. It involves checking a sample of semen for overall sperm health and people may require a sperm analysis for different reasons.

A semen analysis measures four variables that can play a huge role in male fertility: Volume, concentration, motility and morphology. Volume refers to how much semen is produced, concentration refers to the number of sperm per millimeter in the sample, motility refers to how well are the sperm moving and morphology refers to the shape of the sperm, high percentage of abnormally-shaped sperm can threaten fertility. The percentage of normally shaped sperm is evaluated to find out male fertility, a low number of normally shaped sperm can lessen the possibility of pregnancy.

A semen analysis is used to find out if a problem with semen or sperm may be causing a man’s infertility, you may need a semen analysis if you and your partner have been trying to have a child for at least or at the minimum 12 months without success.

The male fertility test process begins with an appointment with a fertility specialist in a clinic. The first step of the process starts by giving answers that a fertility doctor will ask you. Be prepared both mentally and physically before coming for a male fertility test to get precise and effective test results. The doctor will give you a physical examination and ask you relevant questions about your lifestyle, medical histories. Questions that can be asked from a fertility doctor can comprise surgery-related questions, medications related questions, your exercise habits, sex life-related questions, etc.

Types of Male Infertility

  • Asthenospermia:When males suffer or go through the reduced motility of sperms then in medical terms it is known as Asthenospermia. It is diagnosed by performing a semen analysis to determine the presence, and as a result, the extent of sperm immotility.
  • Azoospermia:It is the type of infertility in which males have no or less sperm count. In medical terms males that have not a measurable level of sperms in the semen are suffering from Azoospermia. This condition can be seen in 20% of infertile males but even after this condition males can experience the fatherhood of their own genetic baby with the ICSI technique merged with IVF treatment.
  • Oligospermia:When the males have a low concentration of sperm during the ejaculation then it is the Oligospermia type of male infertility. In this condition together with low concentration sperm abnormalities are also present in semen related to morphology and motility that can also cause the failure of sperm to penetrate a female egg.
  • Teratospermia:When males have abnormalities in the sperms like abnormal morphology then it is called Teratospermia condition of male infertility. Teratospermia refers to sperm morphology defects.

Note:  You will need medical tests to help you find out the cause of infertility as in most cases, there are no obvious signs/symptoms of male infertility.

If you are a man experiencing fertility problems, there are steps you can take to address the issue and certain lifestyle changes you can make to improve your fertility health. Just be aware and realistic about your parenthood journey, it is important to recognize that you may have an unrealistic expectation when it comes to how many goals you will reach before parenthood and may not acknowledge that your ambitions are up against a biological clock. Also, your lifestyle can play a pivotal role, so it’s important to think about it realistically.

you need to be aware that it is not always easy to get your partner pregnant. As, Unfortunately, there are so many things that can mess with your fertility health- your diet, sleep routine, environment, etc. It is very crucial that you switch your unhealthy lifestyle by reducing stress, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercise, staying healthy should be your priority!

Many men mistakenly accept that if they are infertile, they’ll know. Some believe outdated and passe myths about a link between infertility and sexual performance. The truth is that the overwhelming majority of men who are infertile have no symptoms whatsoever. Or if they do have symptoms, they are so subtle that they go unnoticed, men with serious sexual dysfunction issues should see a doctor before they begin trying. Some more subtle symptoms that indicate a man may be infertile include A history of STDs, especially if they have not been fully treated, being over the age of 45, pain when urinating, unusual sensations, such as pain or burning, before, during, or after sex, having a history of cardiovascular health issues, abnormal breast growth, blood in the semen and signs or symptoms of low testosterone, such as very little body hair.

Male Infertility and Mental Health

Male infertility is a challenging condition for men to cope with and we totally get it! The mental and emotional effects of male infertility are real and obvious. It is important that you keep your sanity in check, in the midst of these tough times and the first step for that is to acknowledge your honest feelings with a professional and your partner, you need to embrace that what you are feeling is completely normal. It always helps to have people around who can help answer your questions, be sensitive to your feelings, and understand your fears and concerns.

As overwhelming as your situation may seem at times, remember that there are always ways to reduce your anxiety by bringing a calm perspective to your life. One of the worst instigators of mental stress is uncertainty about the future, so make sure to arm yourself with accurate knowledge and actively do your research on your present situations and options. Research has found that being open about fertility and exploring support from the outside can help both men and women subsist with emotional and mental distress.

Note: The downside about mental health and fertility is that even though stress doesn’t necessarily cause infertility, infertility often causes stress. Multiple studies have discovered that infertility in both women and men oftentimes increase stress, depression, and anxiety.

Opening up about infertility to a partner, friends or family can be daunting for many men and that’s when an objective, independent counselor, particularly with experience in the area of male infertility comes into play to provide the gentle guidance needed to help men come to terms with their diagnoses. Counselling gives ‘headspace’ and an environment free from the heavy burden of expectations, opinion, and judgment.

The last word

Male infertility affects people in a range of different ways, both physically and emotionally. However, you are dealing with it, it is of the utmost importance to remember that you are not alone and that there is help accessible. Keep active, talk, and treat your mind and body well. First and foremost, find out what’s going on. Go to an expert, ask questions, and read as much as you can.

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