Understanding Male-Factor Infertility
When a couple has been able to conceive after 1 year of trying, a diagnosis of infertility is made. The inability to become pregnant can be due to male or female factors or a combination of both. Male-factor infertility happens for various reasons, such as sperm abnormality, structural problems, or testosterone therapy. Certain treatments can help patients with male-factory infertility get a partner pregnant, but men should be sure to avoid testosterone therapy.
Causes and risk factors
Male-factor infertility puts some men at risk more than others, depending on various factors. Lifestyle changes, treatments, medical conditions, and genetics all play a role in the possibility of pregnancy. Some additional risk factors include obesity, tobacco, alcohol, substance abuse, environmental toxins, radiation, and trauma to the testes. Certain medical conditions like varicoceles, undescended testes, hormonal problems, and diabetes also put men at risk of infertility. Cancer treatment, certain medications, and testosterone replacement therapy can negatively affect a man’s fertility.
The testosterone and infertility link
Men who have hypogonadism, which is a condition that causes low testosterone levels, are sometimes treated with testosterone therapy. However, this therapy can make getting pregnant more difficult. Testosterone therapy decreases sperm production, which affects fertility. The good news for men with hypogonadism is that there are other medications and injections that bring testosterone levels back to normal. Men with low testosterone levels who wish to have children should speak to the doctor about the best option for treatment.
Solutions to fix male-factor infertility
The treatment for male-factor infertility will be based on the underlying cause. The infertility specialist may recommend lifestyle changes, medications, and surgeries. Lifestyle changes include quitting tobacco, alcohol, and other substance abuse and maintaining a healthy weight. An imbalance in hormones can affect sperm health which can be treated with hormonal medications. Some men may need surgeries such as vasectomy reversal, vasoepididymostomy, and sperm retrieval.
Moving forward with IVF
If lifestyle changes, medications, and surgery are unsuccessful, fertility treatment may be recommended to increase the chances of conception. The fertility specialist may recommend in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) for the best results. Some patients do ICSI first, while others go straight to IVF. The chosen treatment depends on the patient’s exact situation.
Making a baby
With the help of advanced medicine and science, couples today have many options to make a baby. For men with male-factor infertility, lifestyle changes, hormonal medications, surgery, or fertility treatments can help. Additionally, avoiding medications known to affect sperm negatively is essential. With the right approach, a baby is possible.