What is Male Infertility, and How Common is it Among Couples Unable to Have Children?
Infertility is defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy after 12 months of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse. When the cause of infertility originates from the male partner, it is referred to as male infertility. In couples unable to have children, the cause of infertility is generally attributed to one-third of cases being due to male factors, one-third due to female factors, and one-third due to both partners or unexplained causes. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate both partners simultaneously when dealing with couples experiencing infertility.
How Should Men be Evaluated in Couples Unable to Have Children?
The evaluation of male infertility typically begins with obtaining a medical history. This includes inquiring about the patient’s medical conditions, any past surgeries, and treatments, as well as any genetic diseases that may run in the family. After gathering the patient’s medical history, a thorough physical examination, including the genital organs, should be conducted. Following the physical examination, laboratory tests, especially sperm analysis, should be performed. Additional tests, such as a hormone profile, scrotal or transrectal ultrasonography, and chromosomal analysis, may be considered if deemed necessary.
What Medical Conditions Can Cause Male Infertility?
Various medical conditions can lead to male infertility, including:
Endocrine disorders: Deficiencies in hormones from the hypothalamus or pituitary gland, thyroid gland dysfunction, etc. Direct testicular disorders: Conditions like varicocele, infections, trauma, undescended testes, etc. Conditions that can affect sperm transport: Absence of sperm transport channels from birth, infections, trauma, or diseases like cystic fibrosis Genetic disorders that can affect sperm function or production: Y-chromosome microdeletions, Kallmann syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, etc. Ejaculation disorders
Apart from these, approximately 30% of male infertility cases have no identifiable underlying cause.
How is Male Infertility Treated?
The treatment of male infertility involves investigating the underlying causes and considering the ages of the couple. Depending on the specific cause, male infertility can be treated through various medical or surgical methods. In cases where these treatments alone are insufficient, assisted reproductive techniques may be used to help couples achieve pregnancy.