Understanding Male Infertility: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Recovery
- Published on September 11, 2023
According to the NCBI, over 50% of all cases of infertility are caused by male factors, which impact 15% of all couples worldwide. Male infertility is characterised as the inability to impregnate while having regular, unprotected sexual contact with a fertile female partner for more than 12 months. It can be concerning for couples who want to start a family but are facing issues with male fertility. In order to effectively treat male infertility, it is essential to comprehend its causes, symptoms, available treatments, and possibilities of recovery. An overview of male infertility and its factors is provided in the below article, along with details on its causes, signs, treatments, and prognosis.
Causes of Male Infertility
Numerous physiological, genetic, environmental, and lifestyle variables can contribute to male infertility. Effective diagnosis and treatment of fertility disorders depend on an understanding of the underlying root causes. Typically, male infertility can be a result of one of the following causes:
- Sperm-related disorders: Male infertility is significantly impacted by various disorders associated with sperm, such as low sperm count (oligospermia), poor sperm motility (asthenospermia), and aberrant sperm morphology (teratospermia).
- Hormonal Imbalances: It can be one of the significant causes of male infertility. Hormonal conditions like hypogonadism can definitely have an impact on sperm count and general overall fertility health in males.
- Varicocele: This condition is generally normal in males during their reproductive years. During this disorder, the varicose scrotal vein gets enlarged in size, raising the temperature of the testicles, and also putting pressure on the sperm tube, affecting normal sperm production.
- Genetic Disabilities: Some genetic abnormalities in males, like Klinefelter syndrome and Y chromosomal microdeletions, can cause infertility.
- Infections: Infections like STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, or prostatitis can impact the normal function of healthy sperm production.
- Testicular Factors: There is a direct correlation between testicular abnormalities and fertility. Testicular cancer, testicular damage, or undescended testicles (cryptorchidism) are a few factors that can result in fertility disorders.
- Erectile dysfunction: Males having trouble getting or maintaining an erection may face issues having a successful sexual encounter in order to impregnate their female partner.
- Lifestyle Factors: Male infertility can be impacted by smoking, binge drinking of alcohol, consumption of junk food, usage of drugs, obesity or irregular body weight, exposure to toxins in the environment, and high levels of stress.
Symptoms of Male Infertility
Male infertility can be difficult to detect as it may not show observable signs. Therefore, it is better to be mindful, and if you notice any odd signs or symptoms, approach the expert immediately for a diagnosis. The following are a few possible indicators of male infertility:
- Issues while having sexual intercourse, such as erectile dysfunction (difficulty getting or keeping an erection) and premature ejaculation
- Experiencing discomfort, tenderness, swelling, redness, or lumps in the testicular or scrotum region
- Reduced facial and body hair growth can be a significant indicator of hormonal imbalance
- Decreased libido, changes in sexual desire, or feeling low if indulged in sexual activity.
- Moderate to severe gynecomastia, or abnormal breast growth, generally develops because of hormonal abnormalities
- Repeated respiratory infections can be a sign of poor immunity or immune dysfunction.
Diagnosis of Male Infertility
Male infertility can be difficult to detect without a diagnosis. Therefore, a proper evaluation or thorough examination is needed to find the root cause and determine the treatment to restore the normal function of male fertility. The diagnosis for male infertility may include:
- Physical examination: An expert will check the testicular region physically and may put a slight pressure with fingers on the scrotum area to assess the tenderness, swelling, and lump.
- Scrotal ultrasound: It is usually advised when an expert finds any lump or unusual factor during a physical examination. It is most commonly recommended to evaluate the severity of the varicocele.
- Testicular biopsy: The specialist will collect the sample straight from the testicle with the help of a needle. The sample is later sent to the lab for a thorough evaluation.
- Semen analysis: The patient is advised to provide the sample under certain guidelines. During the lab test, semen is thoroughly assessed on the basis of sperm size, sperm motility, sperm structure, and sperm count.
Male Infertility Treatments
After a complete diagnosis, the expert determines the treatment plan, which may include medical intervention according to the severity of the disorder. Here are a few treatments that are commonly recommended to restore the function of male fertility:
- Medications: This is a first-line treatment that is typically advised when the severity is minor to moderate. Some medications and fertility drugs help boost the required hormonal levels, resulting in healthy sperm production.
- Assisted reproductive techniques (ART): These are effective treatments for couples struggling with severe male fertility who are trying to conceive a baby. ART treatments have higher success rates and include intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), in vitro fertilisation (IVF), and intrauterine insemination (IUI).
- Surgical intervention: Some factors may require surgical intervention to restore function of fertility, like vasectomy reversal, varicocele repair, and surgical correction of anatomical or congenital defects.
- Lifestyle factors: The fertility specialist may provide a set of guidelines to follow. It helps in promoting a healthy routine pattern that comprises consistent exercise, a balanced diet, standard weight control, quitting smoking or any tobacco substance, avoiding junk or processed food, and limiting alcohol consumption, which can have a good effect on fertility.
- Counselling: Infertility can be emotionally challenging for some males. To combat that, the support of your family and friends can help you out. Also, a counsellor with expertise can aid with stress management techniques and coping mechanisms to reduce the maximum emotional strain.
- Antibiotics: When fertility disorders occur due to an infection in the body affecting sperm production, the doctor will suggest a few antibiotics to treat them effectively.
Recovery Tips after Male Infertility Treatment
The recovery of the patient depends on the severity of the condition, the type of treatment, and the technique they have undergone to restore fertility. While some patients may fully recover, others might require some time and continuous care due to the healing process. The following factors can help in a faster recovery and may restore the normal function of fertility to plan a healthy conception:
- Keeping your body hydrated for better and quicker recovery.
- Avoid straining or putting pressure on the surgical site to avoid complications.
- If you have undergone varicocele surgery, wear a scrotum supporter to maintain better circulation of blood in the area.
- If you have a bandage on the surgical site, change it according to the guidelines given by your expert.
- Eat a healthy and nutritious diet to restore strength in the body. It also promotes overall fertility health.
- Avoid any sort of outside food, including fried, junk, and processed food.
- Talk to your family and close friends for comfort whenever you feel low.
- Join a support group or take any counselling, if you feel the requirement.
- Abstain from sexual intercoure for the time period advised by the expert.
- Do not indulge in strenuous activities to avoid complications in the lower abdomen and scrotal region.
- Avoid exposing the scrotum directly to heat or high temperatures.
- Avoid skipping any follow-up consultation to avoid any potential risk.
Over the years, male infertility treatments have evolved, they are minimally invasive and have an increased success rate. The outlook of the treatment may vary based on the intervention for the disorder. The success rate of each technique differs from one to another. However, the general outlook of male infertility treatments is that there are– higher chances of healthy conception, the male has restored the ability to impregnate his fertility female partner, and the patient has restored libido to have successful sexual intercourse. Also, there are alternative options such as surrogacy and using donor sperm that can also bring successful outcomes to couples dealing with infertility.
Risk Factors of Male Infertility
Here are a few risk factors that can impact fertility in males:
- Drug abuse
- Contact support
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- Heavy weight lifting
- Steroids injections
- Irregular body weight
- Regular steam baths
- Trauma or injury in the scrotum region
Male infertility is a significant factor and a major cause for couples who are struggling to conceive naturally. It can be emotionally challenging and draining for some patients to seek treatment for this condition. This article gives a brief idea about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, recovery, and outlook of male infertility. The treatment nowadays is much more evolved and has a higher success rate, which can result in a healthy and confirmed conception. The chances of successful conception are likely to increase more if the required medical attention is given promptly. Also, while undergoing male infertility treatment, receiving counselling and emotional support is essential to managing the stress that comes with the condition. Many couples dealing with male infertility might discover hope and the prospect of realizing their dream of becoming parents thanks to advancements in assisted reproduction technology (ART) and the variety of treatments accessible to patients in need. If you are diagnosed with male infertility and require expert advise, consult our fertility specialist today. You can either call us at the number or book an appointment by filling in the required details, our medical counsellor will call you shortly.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Does smoking affect sperm count?
Yes. Smoking can be a significant factor that can lead to infertility in males. It affects the DNA carried by sperm and can also affect the motility of sperm, resulting in the inability to impregnate a female partner.
- Does body building steroids affect fertility in males?
Yes. Oral steroids and injections used to build bodies can result in male fertility. Such drugs and steroids can impact the levels of hormones, causing hormonal imbalance.
- How can I improve sperm quality naturally?
The following tips can help you improve the quality of your sperm naturally. These are standard measures that may not be effective for everyone:
- Join stress management groups if you are affected by chronic stress
- Quit smoking
- Avoid consumption of alcohol
- Eat healthy and protein rich food
- Stay hydrated
- Prevent from STDs
- What are the common causes of male infertility?
Some of the common causes of male infertility are:
- Excessive stress
- Low sperm count
- Low sperm motility rate
- Genetic abnormalities
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Active smoking
- Excessive intake of processed and junk food
- Unhealthy lifestyle
Fertility TreatmentsProblems with fertility are both emotionally and medically challenging. At Birla Fertility & IVF, we focus on providing you with supportive, personalized care at every step of your journey towards becoming a parent.
Male InfertilityMale factor infertility accounts for almost 40%-50% of all infertility cases. Decreased sperm function can be the result of genetic, lifestyle, medical or environmental factors. Fortunately, most causes of male factor infertility can be easily diagnosed and treated.
We offer a comprehensive range of sperm retrieval procedures and treatments for couples with male factor infertility or sexual dysfunction.