A common misconception is that infertility is primarily a woman's "problem". In fact, male factor infertility affects the same number of couples as female factor infertility. An additional 25% of couples who seek treatment have more than one factor or condition affecting their ability to reproduce.
Some of the causes of male infertility are:
- A problem with testicular production of sperm
- No sperm (azoospermia)
- A blockage or absence of the duct for sperm (vas deferens) from the testicles
- A dilated vein in the scrotum (varicocele)
- A hormonal imbalance
- Lack of sperm mobility or function
- Previous injuries or health factors
- Ejaculation disorders
To identify male infertility, we analyze a semen sample for the volume of semen, the concentration of sperm, the percent of actively moving sperm and number of normal shaped sperm.
Even if one or more of these measurements is lower than normal, a man may have normal fertility. A semen analysis alone cannot fully predict a couple's fertility. When male factor infertility is identified, EMBIO MEDICAL CENTER recommends a complete infertility evaluation of the woman.
Treating Male Infertility
If male factor infertility has been diagnosed through a semen analysis, there are several approaches for treatment including drug therapy, surgical therapy, ART, ICSI and donor sperm.
Hormonal imbalances affecting the development of sperm can usually be successfully treated with drug therapy.
When there is a physical barrier preventing sperm production and maturation or ejaculation, a surgical procedure may be the most effective means of retrieving the sperm for insemination. These surgical procedures involve retrieval of the spermatozoa using a thin needle.
ART - Assisted Reproductive Technology
The female partner will often undergo intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) to treat certain types of male infertility. In cases where IVF is involved, it is often performed using ICSI.
ICSI - Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, is used in cases where sperm are insufficient, do not swim properly, or have an abnormal shape that prevents them from penetrating the egg. An embryologist uses a microscope to carefully select, immobilize and draw a single healthy sperm into a pipette. After stabilizing the mature egg of the female partner, the embryologist carefully injects the sperm into the egg. This process takes less than ten minutes and does not damage either the egg or the sperm.
Donor Sperm IVF
An alternative approach to male factor infertility is using a donor from one of several national sperm banks. EMBIO MEDICAL CENTER can provide information to aid your search for a sperm donor. Once a donor is identified and the sperm is available, the female would most likely go through an IVF cycle in combination with ICSI.
A vasectomy can often be reversed through surgery. A vasectomy reversal rejoins the vas deferens. It is performed under a light sedation with the aid of a microscope. Pregnancy rates following a vasectomy reversal are generally over 50%.