Unlike female infertility, infertility in male is not easily identified. The dynamics of our society is in such a way that, an inability to conceive is usually blamed on the female partner. The symptoms of male infertility are also not as evident as that in women. The process of erection, intercourse and ejaculation occur without deterrence. The decrease in semen or sperm count cannot be identified with naked eye.
Almost half of the infertility cases of couples reported in the world is due to male infertility. Medical tests and diagnosis is necessary to ascertain infertility. The main reasons of infertility in men owes to reduction in sperm count, production and transport. One in every five infertile man has a problem with sperm motility. Blockages or obstruction of tubes, leading to penis from the testes, is the major reason for decreased movement. The lack of sperm production in testes and weakness of the produced sperm are other reasons of infertility.
Other less common reasons for infertility are low production reproductive hormones from pituitary gland, problems affecting the entrance of semen into vagina to fertilise the egg and presence of sperm antibodies. The initial stage of medical treatment involves a physical examination along with an analysis of previous medical history. Previous surgeries in the pelvic region or other disease will affect the fertility of a person.
The various stages of diagnosis are as follows: -
Physical Examination – a body check-up along with a face to face talk with the doctor constitutes this step. This is done to know more about the patient’s sexual development from puberty and also his sexual habits.
Semen Analysis – Semen is collected from the patient and sent for laboratory testing to study the count, quality and mobility of sperm. Usually, sperm count is found to vary in each ejaculation. So this is done over a period of time.
If after this analysis is found to be normal, several other tests are conducted to find the actual cause of infertility. Some of them are: -
Hormone Testing – a blood test is done to ascertain the levels of testosterone and other hormones produced by hypothalamus and pituitary glands. The organs are also checked for issues.
Scrotal ultrasound – high frequency sound waves are used to image the internal organs to find abnormalities in testicles or related organ.
Testicular biopsy – it involves collecting sample cells from testicles to ensure the nature of sperm produced. This is not a commonly used technique.
Post ejaculation urine analysis – urine is analysed for the presence of sperm which points to retrograde ejaculation.
Transrectal ultrasound – this helps in finding blockage in the tube carrying sperm, by inserting a small wand through the rectum.
Specialised tests for sperm function – a number of tests are done to analyse the quality of sperm, its life span after ejaculation and its ability to attach to the egg. These tests are usually not done as they do not affect course of treatment.
The treatment for male infertility depends on the age of the patient and the extend of the problem. Most of the infertility disorders are curable.