WHAT IS CAUSING MY MALE INFERTILITY?
Male factor infertility accounts for about half of all infertility cases. Doctors have identified several main factors that can play a role in causing male infertility: sperm issues, anatomical barriers, and immune system disorders.
Dr. Thomas Kim, who practices at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Southern California (RMA SoCal) in West Los Angeles, explains these factors along with treatment options, below:
SPERM COUNT, MOTILITY, & MORPHOLOGY
It only takes one sperm to create a pregnancy. But if there are problems with sperm production or sperm quality, male infertility may result and a pregnancy will be hard to achieve. Sperm are graded on their quantity (sperm count), how well they move (motility), and their shape (morphology). Abnormally-shaped sperm may not be able to penetrate and fertilize an egg, and sperm that have poor motility may not reach the egg at all.
Sperm production disorders may be caused by a genetic defect, infection, testicular trauma, hormonal imbalance, or exposure to radiation and certain medications.
ANATOMICAL OR STRUCTURAL BARRIERS TO FERTILITY
Anything that blocks the pathways in which sperm travel may cause infertility. Structural barriers may be caused by scar tissue that formed as a result of a previous surgery, or from an infection in the pathways. Some structural defects may be congenital (from birth).
DIAGNOSING STRUCTURAL BARRIERS
If your test results show there is a structural barrier that’s causing male infertility, a “fructose test” will be done. This test can help your doctor evaluate the blockage of the seminal vesicles, or the duct that connects the seminal vesicles to your ejaculatory duct. If there is no fructose in your semen, there may be a structural problem. If a structural problem is found, surgery may be an option.
IMMUNE SYSTEM DISORDERS
Some men develop antibodies to their own sperm, which may attack and weaken the sperm. These antibodies may attach to the sperm and interfere with their movement or their ability to fertilize the egg.
DIAGNOSING IMMUNE SYSTEM DISORDERS
If your semen analysis shows sperm clumping or signs of infection, your doctor may order a semen culture, prostate fluid culture, and urinalysis. To evaluate immune system disorders, your doctor may order an anti-sperm antibody test, which may be performed on your semen, through a blood test, or both. If your physician finds that you have an infection or an immune system disorder, medications may help.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT FOR MALE INFERTILITY
If you or your partner are experiencing infertility, it could be male-factor related. No matter the cause, there are steps you can take to get help. At Reproductive Medicine Associates of Southern California, we will perform a complete male fertility work-up, which includes a fertility assessment, physical exam, semen analysis, and hormone testing to reach a diagnosis and decide on a treatment plan.
Quite often, the reason for male infertility is unknown, so your doctor may speak to you about other options, such as Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) or In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), which has a high success rate for couples dealing with infertility.
No matter the treatment path you may decide on with your doctor, it’s important to have hope – because help is available, and your dreams are still within reach.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Thomas Kim or Dr. Katherine Green, please call 414-293-8841 or click here.
Reproductive Medicine Associates of Southern California - Los Angeles, CA
Reproductive endocrinologist at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Southern California (RMASOCAL) in Los Angeles, CA. View more blogs by Dr. Kim.