Infertility is a condition that can affect either or both partners so each should be thoroughly evaluated. About one third of the time, male factors are the cause of infertility. Female infertility testing and treatment should occur after a semen analysis has been completed.
Male Infertility Causes
Male infertility may be caused by:
- Low levels of hormones
- Prolonged elevated scrotal temperature
- Varicocele (an abnormal mass of varicose veins in the scrotum)
- Antisperm antibodies
- Retrograde ejaculation
- Blockage of the vas deferens (the tube that transports the sperm from the testicles to the urethra)
Other factors that affect sperm quality are smoking, certain medications, infection, excessive alcohol, exposure to toxins such as heavy metals, heredity, and others.
Male Infertility Diagnosis
The first step to diagnosing a male fertility problem is a thorough evaluation, which includes a physical exam and semen analysis. Additional testing can include a hormone analysis, imaging studies to check for obstructions in the sperm passage and a testicular biopsy (performed in an outpatient setting) to determine the cause of infertility.
Male Infertility Treatment
Wake Forest Baptist physicians are experienced with the full range of treatments – from medications for hormonal disorders to corrective surgical procedures. For example, a minimally invasive outpatient procedure is used to repair dilated scrotal veins, a condition known as varicocele, which may impair sperm development by preventing proper drainage of blood.
In the case of a previous vasectomy, surgery using an operating room microscope has been found to be very successful in reversing the obstruction in certain patients. In addition, other types of obstruction causing infertility can also be surgically corrected.
In many cases, a mix of medications, surgical approaches and assisted reproductive techniques, such as intrauterine insemination, intracytoplasmic sperm injections or in vitro fertilization, are able to overcome fertility problems.