About 15 percent of couples have difficulty achieving their first pregnancy. While fertility evaluation is often initiated by the female partner, infertility affects men and women. In fact, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), studies show that in approximately 40 percent of infertility couples the male partner is either the sole cause or a contributing cause of infertility.
- Anatomical Abnormalities
- Varicocele — Swollen/dilated veins surrounding testicle.
- Sperm Flow Blockage — Many conditions cause flow blockage, which could cause sperm count to be extremely low or azoospermia (no sperm present in ejaculate).
- Infection: Prostate or epididymis infections can have a significant impact on male fertility.
- Hormonal Problems: Abnormal levels of hormones in the blood may cause sperm production to be very low or completely absent.
- Genetic Abnormalities: Missing, extra, broken or misshapen chromosomes, sperm DNA fragmentation, or damaged individual genes on the Y chromosome can impact male fertility.
- Oxidative Stress: Reactive oxygen or oxidants in the semen can damage the sperm cell membrane and DNA.
- Medication & Treatment Side Effects: Certain medications or medical treatments can interfere with sperm production. Review your drug and treatment history with your physician.
Your Fertility Centers of Illinois physician will evaluate the source of your problem and, in some cases, refer you to a urologist.
Male factor infertility diagnostic testing typically includes:
- A complete medical history & physical examination
- Semen Analysis: Measurement of the quantity and quality of semen. Fertility Centers of Illinois performs Strict Morphology (Krueger Tests) for sperm shape. Our andrologists have specialized training to analyze the sperm according to very precise criteria required by this testing process.
- Diagnostic Testing:
- Leukocytes in Semen — High white blood cell levels may indicate an infection.
- Viability Test — A measurement of the percent of viable and non-living sperm in the seminal fluid
- Genetics Tests
- Chromosomal Analysis — Blood test to check for the male chromosome component.
- Additional Testing (as recommended by your Fertility Centers of Illinois physician)
- Direct Anti-Sperm Antibody Test — A test for special proteins (antibodies) in the sperm.
- Testicular Ultrasound — To detect varicocele or other abnormality of the sperm tract.
- Retrograde Semen Analysis — There are certain conditions where the semen can flow backwards into the bladder necessitating further testing.
A range of treatment options are currently available:
- Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) with Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
- Sperm Aspiration
- Other techniques
Due to the high incidence of male factor infertility, it is important to receive early and optimal diagnosis of conditions that may cause infertility. If pregnancy fails to occur within one year of regular unprotected intercourse or if there are risk factors in the male partner, then an initial screening of the male should be done.