More often than not, infertility has a few different causes. Sometimes it’s female factor, others receive a diagnosis of male factor infertility, sometimes it’s a combination and other times, frustratingly, there is no identifiable cause. Of course, treatment depends on diagnosis, but rest assured as reproductive medical science advances treatment options grow.
Tests for Male Infertility
About 50% of the time an infertility diagnosis relates back to male factor. Diagnosing male infertility is usually straightforward and involves non-invasive tests at the start. Some common diagnostic tests are:
- General Physical: Your doctor takes a health history in search of a possible genetic component or chronic health issues. They may also look for underlying conditions that contribute to male infertility along with any injuries or surgeries that affect your pelvic region. You and your doctor also discuss your sexual habits and your development during puberty.
- Semen Analysis: A semen sample is necessary for a semen analysis. There are two ways to obtain your sample. The patient may opt to masturbate and collect the ejaculate into a specimen container at the doctor’s office, or, for those with cultural or religious beliefs that don’t allow for this type of collection the doctor provides a special condom for the collection. If you opt for this method, you use the condom during intercourse. Do not use a regular condom for this purpose as they contain a residue that kills sperm.
After you’ve collected your semen, the lab examines it for sperm count, movement, and shape, and looks for evidence of infection. Depending on the findings you may undergo a second round of testing that’s more in-depth. These tests are typically blood tests assessing your hormones and ruling out genetic conditions, ultrasounds, urinalysis, and a testicular biopsy which confirms normal sperm production and checks for blockages.
Treating Male Infertility
Once your doctor confirms the diagnosis, treatment begins. There are various ways doctors treat male infertility depending on the root cause. Here are some of the more common ways providers treat male infertility.
- Medication: The medications your doctor prescribes treat a variety of male infertility issues. Your doctor may prescribe a hormonal medication that balances your reproductive hormones and restores your normal fertility. You may have an infection that calls for medication or your doctor may decide on a regimen of different drugs to boost sperm production.
- Varicocele Repair: A varicocele is an enlarged vein or veins, in the scrotum. The pressure caused by a varicocele impairs sperm production, depending on the size or if left untreated. It is a very common condition and highly treatable. The repair is a minor procedure involving microscopic surgery and is an outpatient procedure.
- Surgery to Remove Blockage: If your doctor diagnoses a blockage, you likely need surgery for removal of the blockage. Depending on the location of the blockage, it may interfere with sperm production, sperm maturation, ejaculation, and even erectile function.
- Microsurgical Sperm Retrieval: Depending on your diagnosis your doctor may opt for microsurgical sperm retrieval. This involves a minimally invasive procedure whereby your doctor draws sperm directly from your testicles. Most often microsurgical sperm retrievals are an outpatient
- Assisted Reproductive Technologies: If your doctor determines the fertility issue is irreversible, they advise assisted reproductive technology as a means to conceive. If your sperm is viable enough you may opt for IVF. If not, you should consider donor sperm from a sperm bank, friend or family member.
Some male infertility is deliberate and due to a vasectomy. Some males change their minds and find they desire a biological child after the vasectomy. There are a few different ways doctors treat male infertility due to a vasectomy. The most common treatment is reversal of the vasectomy or a vasovasostomy.
The vasovasostomy reverses the vasectomy by reconnecting the previously clipped vas deferens. This reconnection allows sperm into the semen again and, ideally, restores male fertility. Two to four weeks after the procedure you may resume trying to conceive.
However, the vasovasostomy isn’t always successful. There are some instances when the surgery can’t restore male fertility due to age, scar tissue, time since the vasectomy occurred and other conditions. In this case, your doctor treats your male infertility using sperm retrieval and IVF for conceiving a child.
Find Out More About Treatment for Male Infertility
If you suspect male infertility, please contact LA IVF. We’ll find the answers you need and recommend the treatment path that’s right for you.