Infertility in Men
Infertility is the medical term for a couple’s inability to become pregnant after one year of sexual intercourse. Based on current statistics, around 15% of couples in the U.S. and Europe have problems with conception. Fertility depends upon several factors, for both the man and the woman. Male factors contribute to 30% of infertility. In the past, men with infertility had few options. However, improvements in technology have now gave hope to many couples.
Causes of Male Infertility
For a man to be fertile, he must have a normal functioning pituitary gland and hypothalamus (hormone-producing structures of the brain), as well as adequate testicular function. Around 35% of cases of male infertility are related to problems with the testes, with around 15% being contributed to blockage in the passage of sperm. In addition, around 45% of male infertility cases have no identifiable cause.
The risk factors for infertility in men include:
- Aging, which reduces sperm motility, sperm count, as well as decreases genetic quality of the sperm.
- Sexually transmitted diseases that cause scarring of the male reproductive tract.
- Substance and tobacco abuse.
- Long-term exposure to certain medications, chemicals, and toxins.
Male Infertility Evaluation
If the Los Angelels fertility specialist suspects the couple’s inability to conceive is related to a male factor, he will conduct a semen analysis. A normal result usually indicates that the female partner needs testing. Other assessments include a testicular ultrasound, hormone blood levels, and a general physical examination. In addition, genetic testing is done to identify sperm DNA fragmentation, genetic diseases, and/or chromosomal defects.
Treatment of Male Infertility
The treatment of male infertility depends on the actual cause. Options include:
- Unblocking the reproductive tract – Men with a blockage in the ducts can undergo surgery to correct the problem, or use a form of assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as sperm extraction for artificial insemination.
- Reversing vasectomy – A vasectomy can be reversed in around 85% of cases. However, the longer the man has the vasectomy, the lower the rate of conception.
- Gland deficiency – For a small percentage of men (1-2%), the problem is due to the hypothalamus or pituitary gland. For these men, treatment involves injections of human chorionic gonadotropin and follicle-stimulating hormone. With gonadotropin treatment, the success rate is high, but the cost is also.
- Varicocele surgery – A varicocele is a dilated varicose vein of the scrotum. This affects sperm shape and/or sperm count. Correction of this problem increases blood flow to the testicle, which corrects infertility.
- In vitro fertilization (IVF) – This assisted reproductive technology (ART) technique is used for unexplained infertility. The male’s sperm and the female’s egg are joined in the laboratory setting. IVF has a 40-60% success rate per cycle for women younger than 35 years of age.
- Testicular extraction of sperm – When the man has a low sperm count or problems with sperm quality, the sperm can be removed from the testes. When combined with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (single sperm injected directly into the egg in the laboratory), the couple have a 30% chance of achieving pregnancy.
- Donor sperm – When male infertility cannot be treated, the female partner’s egg can be artificially inseminated with donor sperm. Sperm banks screen donors for genetic problems, infections, and mental illness.
The Los Angeles fertility specialists at Pacific Reproductive Center offer first rate treatments for both female and male infertility. Comprehensive treatment options are provided at four locations including Glendale, Torrance, Irvine and Corona CA. Our live birth success rates are impressive, call today!