Fembryo Fertility Clinic Blog
FAQ’s about male fertility
Understanding male fertility, the factors that influence it, and the treatment options available empowers couples to make informed decisions and helps them navigate their fertility journey with confidence. These are some of the questions most often asked about male infertility:
What is male infertility?
Male infertility refers to the inability of a man to impregnate a female partner despite regular, unprotected sexual intercourse over a significant period of time. Male infertility can manifest in various ways, including a low sperm count, poor sperm motility (movement), abnormal sperm shape or the complete absence of sperm. These factors make it difficult for sperm to reach and fertilise an egg, resulting in challenges with conception. Male infertility is a common issue, affecting approximately 8% of men worldwide.
What are the common signs and symptoms of male infertility?
Male infertility may not always present noticeable signs or symptoms and, in many cases, it can go undetected until a couple experiences difficulty in conceiving. However, some common signs and symptoms associated with male infertility include:
Problems with sexual function:
Difficulty in ejaculating, reduced sexual desire or erectile dysfunction may indicate potential fertility issues.
Pain or swelling in the testicles:
Infections, inflammation or varicocele (enlarged veins in the scrotum) can lead to testicular discomfort or swelling, potentially affecting fertility.
Symptoms like reduced body or facial hair growth, gynecomastia (enlarged breasts) or other signs of hormonal abnormalities may indicate an underlying fertility issue.
A history of reproductive disorders:
Previous surgeries, trauma or medical conditions affecting the reproductive organs, such as undescended testicles or hernias, can be associated with male infertility.
It’s important to remember that the absence of symptoms does not guarantee fertility, and the only definitive way to assess male infertility is through a comprehensive evaluation by a fertility specialist.
How does age affect male fertility?
While it is widely known that female fertility declines with age, male fertility also experiences changes as men get older. Here’s how age can affect male fertility:
As men get older, sperm quality may deteriorate. This could manifest as a decrease in sperm count, reduced motility and an increase in the percentage of abnormal sperm morphology.
With advancing age, there is an increased likelihood of DNA damage in sperm, which can affect fertilisation and the development of a healthy embryo.
Aging is associated with changes in hormone levels, including a gradual decline in testosterone. Hormonal imbalances can impact sperm production and overall reproductive function.
Time to pregnancy:
Compared to younger men, it may take longer for older men to conceive with their female partners.
Can male infertility be prevented?
While it may not be possible to prevent all cases of male infertility, there are steps that individuals can take to promote and maintain their reproductive health.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle:
A balanced diet, regular exercise and weight management can positively impact overall health, including reproductive health.
Avoid harmful substances:
Limit or avoid the use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs, as they can have detrimental effects on sperm quality and reproductive function.
Practice safe sex and protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs):
STIs can cause infections and inflammation in the reproductive organs, leading to potential damage and infertility. Using condoms and practicing safe sex can help prevent STIs.
Protect against occupational hazards and environmental toxins:
Exposure to certain chemicals, toxins or excessive heat in the workplace or environment can harm sperm production and quality. Taking necessary precautions and protective measures can help reduce potential risks.
Chronic stress can affect hormonal balance and reproductive function. Seeking support and using stress management methods, such as exercise and relaxation techniques, can promote overall well-being, including reproductive health.
How is male infertility diagnosed?
Male infertility is typically diagnosed through a comprehensive evaluation that includes a medical history assessment, a physical examination and semen analysis. The diagnostic process may vary depending on individual circumstances and may include hormone testing, genetic testing, imaging and/or biopsy.
What are the available treatment options for male infertility?
The treatment options for male infertility depend on the underlying cause and specific factors contributing to the fertility issue. Here are some common treatment approaches that may be recommended:
Certain medications can be prescribed to address hormonal imbalances, improve sperm production or treat specific underlying conditions.
Surgical interventions may be performed to correct anatomical abnormalities that affect fertility.
Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART):
In cases where there are severe sperm-related issues, ART procedures can help facilitate conception. Learn more about ART here. (https://fembryo.co.za/understanding-the-basics-of-assisted-reproductive-technology-art/)
If there are severe sperm-related issues or when all other treatment options are unsuccessful, donor sperm can be used.
How successful are fertility treatments for male infertility?
The success rates of fertility treatments for male infertility varies depending on several factors, including the specific cause of infertility, the age of the female partner, the treatment chosen, and individual circumstances. The best course of action is to consult with a specialist who will provide personalised assessments, discuss expected success rates based on the specific circumstances, and guide couples through the most appropriate treatment options.
If you and your partner are facing difficulties in starting a family, it’s essential to consider the possibility of male infertility and seek the support and guidance you need from healthcare professionals who can provide accurate and reliable information and a course of treatment designed for your particular situation. Remember, you’re not alone and there are solutions available to help you on your path to parenthood.