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What Most People Don't Know About Male Infertility

What Most People Don't Know About Male Infertility

Although the exact numbers vary depending on the study cited when a couple is having trouble conceiving, male infertility may be involved in up to 50% of cases. In about 20%-30% of cases, the male’s problems alone are responsible.  

People may joke somewhat frivolously about how “little” a man has to do to bring a new life into the world. He’s exempt from the months of nourishing and gestating a baby and doesn’t have to suffer through labor (except vicariously). 

However, there’s nothing little or minor about a sperm’s contribution to conception. If a male has trouble with his sperm or any of his reproductive organs, he may not be able to father a child or may need the help of assisted reproductive technology (ART).

If you and your partner have been told that male infertility is involved in your journey toward having a child, you may face many unknowns. Our OC Fertility specialists, Sharon Moayeri, MD, and Nidhee Sachdev, MD, in Newport Beach, California, share a few facts about male infertility you may not have known.

Men grieve infertility, too

Just as many women long to have a child and be a mother, many men fervently desire fatherhood. When they discover that they’re infertile, they usually undergo a grieving process. However, they may not be as willing to share their feelings as a woman or feel that they need to support their partner if she’s also infertile.

If you or your partner is an infertile man, be sure you get the care and support you need as you move to the next steps in your journey to have a family. ART can be stressful and expensive for both partners. You might consider couples therapy to help you navigate the sometimes challenging waters ahead.

Male infertility is often a sperm problem

Sperm, those tiny one-celled reproductive powerhouses, must be plentiful and well-formed to fertilize an egg. Because sperm must journey through the cervix and uterus, up into the fallopian tube to meet the egg, it takes the presence of millions to ensure that enough travel far enough and are strong enough for fertilization.

In fact, a fertile man releases anywhere from 15-200 million sperm per milliliter of semen ejaculated. Even so, only one sperm can penetrate a woman’s egg at a time, and that sperm must be healthy.

Healthy sperm have well-formed heads. Their tails are extremely mobile and active and move in an orderly fashion. If your sperm are shaped abnormally, move abnormally, or aren’t produced in sufficient numbers, you may not be able to conceive a child without assistance.

During your fertility workup, we examine both the quantity and quality of your sperm. Depending on our findings, we may recommend lifestyle changes to improve the quality of your sperm, such as: 

However, if your sperm problems can’t be remedied with lifestyle changes, we may recommend in vitro fertilization (IVF) in which we select healthy sperm from your donation to fertilize your partner’s egg in a lab.

Male fertility problems may be structural

Just as women sometimes experience growths or other abnormalities that affect their reproductive organs, men do, too. During your exam, we look for the most common abnormalities that may cause problems with sperm production or release, including:

Conditions that impede male fertility may be treatable by surgery. If so, we refer you to a urologic surgeon. 

Other causes of male infertility

As with female infertility, several factors may be involved if a man can’t produce enough or good enough sperm to fertilize an egg. In rare cases, he may make an antibody to his sperm that attacks and destroys it.

Sometimes, infertility is a reaction to certain medications, which may need to be ceased or adjusted. Exposure to environmental toxins, such as those found in a workplace, may also be involved and must be eliminated. You may also be low in the hormone testosterone (T) and could benefit from T replacement therapy.

Male infertility can be overcome

In many cases, both male and female infertility can be overcome through the use of ART. Whether you and your partner would benefit from IVF or another assistance, such as artificial insemination, is decided on a case-by-case basis.

Don’t wonder about why you haven’t become a father yet. Get the answers by scheduling a fertility workup and male infertility treatments today. Contact us at 949-706-2229 or book an appointment online.

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