Although there are many couples unable to have a child, infertility remains a personal issue.The suffering and despair which childlessness may bring to an otherwise fulfilling relationship is substantial. A modern fertility clinic offers a wide range of high-treatments but there are other important considerations too- the cost, the time required for the treatment, disappointment, the anxiety.
Estimates indicate that around one third of all infertility cases are the result of a male problem- most commonly related to the quality and quantity of sperm of the Male Partner.Because the reason for so much infertility is unexplained, male infertility- which is explained – has been described as ‘the largest defined cause of human infertility’.
Assessing The Causes
Investigations carried out by a family doctor or a specialist clinic can provide a clear diagnosis of male infertility in most cases(although no test can predict with total accuracy).Because The sperm characteristics required for ‘normal’ fertilisation are well known, any abnormal results from a sperm test will suggest a male problem.These tests, which are carried out on a semen sample can reveal abnormalities in sperm numbers, movement and shape.
In recent years, specialist infertility clinics have also used in vitro fertilisation as a diagnostic test. Very often, healthy eggs fail to fertilise in the laboratory because of abnormal sperm function. Failed IVF therefore can provide more conclusive evidence of ‘male factor’ infertility.
Causes of male infertility
For men the most common cause of infertility are:
- Sperm Problems
- Functional Problems
- Hormonal Problems
The sperm related abnormalities which tests might reveal are:
- Low sperm count
- Non-production Of sperm( absent sperm)
- Poor sperm motility ( ability to move)
- Poor shape (abnormally shaped sperm)
All of these conditions have their own scientific names also.
Functional problems may be due to the following
- Impotence – the ability to maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse
- Failure to ejaculate
- Presence of other disease such as diabetes and major sclerosis
- Antibodies – the man’s immune system makes antibodies that hinder the activity of the sperm.
Although not a common cause, sometimes the pituitary gland, located underneath the brain, doesn’t send the right messages to the testes. This results in low testosterone levels, which means that sperm are not produced.
The cause of infertility is not always apparent. In many cases, both partners can appear to be fine, but still there’s no pregnancy, this is known as unexplained infertility.
If someone has an obvious, serious reproductive condition, it is often easier to diagnose and treat the probable cause of their infertility. Ironically, mild problems may be hatter to identify and resolve, particularly if there are several minor factors that combine to influence fertility.