Can Male Infertility be Treated?
Thanks to continuous advances in modern medicine, there is a range innovative treatments, proven procedures and alternative options today that allow men around the world to resolve the infertility challenges they face.
In this article, we look at some of the possible causes of male infertility, how your specific infertility challenge can be accurately identified, and how these infertility issues can be treated with today’s modern fertility treatments.
The Possible Causes of Male Infertility
There are many possible causes of male infertility – ranging from issues with the sperm, the testes, the ducts that lead out from the testes, a functional problem in relation to sexual activity, hormonal issues or even genetic problems.
However, male infertility – in most cases – is related to sperm disorders. In fact, in around 60% of men who experience fertility challenges, the challenge relates to damage to their sperm production.
For example, a man may not be producing sperm in adequate numbers, or the sperm might be obstructed from reaching the penis, or the sperm cells may not be not swimming well, or the sperm cells could be under attack from antibodies from either the male himself or his female partner, or the hormones that allow sperm development and support may be out if balance. In all of these cases, male fertility is adversely affected.
Identifying your Specific Infertility Challenge
It is encouraging to know that there are many advanced tests are available to determine the exact cause of male infertility from the diverse range of possible causes.
At Medfem Fertility Clinic, we proudly offer a range of male infertility tests to pinpoint the exact cause of your infertility challenge, detailed below.
Since most male infertility challenges spring from sperm disorders, a semen analysis is usually one of the first tests done to help determine the cause of a man’s infertility problems. A semen analysis determines both the quantity and quality of male sperm by measuring the amount of semen produced and determining the number and quality of sperm in the semen sample.
A number of tests may be completed during a semen analysis. This includes a measure of volume to determine how much semen is present in one ejaculation; as well as determining liquefaction time – the time it takes for semen to liquefy from a thick gel at the time of ejaculation. A sperm count measures the number of sperm present per milliliter of semen in one ejaculation; while sperm morphology measures of the percentage of sperm that have a normal shape. Sperm motility measures of the percentage of sperm that move forward normally. Measuring motile density determines the number of sperm that show normal forward movement in a certain amount of semen. A pH test determines the acidity (low pH) or alkalinity (high pH) of the semen; while the white blood cell count could reveal possible problems as white blood cells are not normally present in semen. Furthermore, the fructose level in the semen is measured to determine the amount of the sugar called fructose in the semen, which provides energy for the sperm.
Another method of testing sperm is through ultrasound technology. An ultrasound examination of the testes and prostate can be a useful diagnostic test. An ultrasound probe is placed on the testicles to provide a picture of the testes and epididymis. It is also useful for diagnosing testicular cancer and varicocele.
A testicular biopsy involves the removal of a small sample of the tissue from a testicle. This allows for direct inspection of the sperm-making tissue.
These tests, conducted by a fertility specialist, will enable the exact cause of your specific infertility challenge, and allow you and your fertility specialist to select the right treatment from the range of treatment options available today.
Male Fertility Treatments, Procedures and Options
Thanks to great advances in medical technology, there are a range of treatments, procedures and options for male infertility.
For example, one of the major break throughs in treatment of male infertility is ICSI. Because of its rate of fertilisation of around 70% and because only a few normal sperm are needed, this treatment gives even men who were previously considered completely sterile an excellent chance to have their own child.
Detailed below are some of the treatments proudly offered at Medfem Fertility Clinic.
Hormonal Therapy – Male hormonal disorder is caused by a deficiency in the hormones that control testicular function. It is successfully treated by injections of hormone preparations called gonadotrophins that cause the testes to increase in size and produce testosterone in normal amounts.
Varicocele Repair – During the repair of a varicocele – a dilation of the veins the scrotum which may interfere with the testicle’s production of sperm – the veins are tied or clipped through a small incision in the groin, resulting in a significant improvement in sperm production within months.
Vasectomy Reversal – A vasectomy reversal repairs a surgically removed section of the sperm duct and is called a vasovasostomy. The results of a vasectomy reversal depend on how long ago the procedure was done.
Surgical Sperm Retrieval – If motile sperm is being produced, it is possible to retrieve the sperm surgically. Alternatively, a sample of tissue (testicular biopsy) can be taken from the testes. Provided that one or two sperm cells can be surgically retrieved by any of these methods, fertilisation is possible using the microinjection technique of Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).
Sperm Aspiration – Testicular Sperm Aspiration (TESA), Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (PESA) and Microsurgical Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (MESA), are all procedures to extract sperm tissue.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) – This is a procedure in which sperm are directly injected into the egg, used in the case of poor semen characteristics. These techniques have proven a revolution in the treatment of men with very severe infertility – now surgical sperm retrieval of just a few sperm cells from the testes and the technique of ICSI makes fatherhood possible for the most challenging of cases. To date, tens of thousands of children have been born around the world as the result of ICSI.
Artificial Insemination (AI) / Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) – This is the technique of placing sperm from a male partner or from a sperm donor directly into the female partner’s uterus. It is sometimes used in cases where the male partner has a mild sperm abnormality or anti-sperm antibodies.
Sperm Donation – Medfem Fertility Clinic founded its own sperm bank in 1990 to address the acute donor sperm shortage in South Africa. Our sperm donors are decent, committed men who give up their time, without getting paid, to donate their sperm to help others to conceive.
Sperm Freezing and Storage – If you are facing a situation that could interfere with your future fertility, such as radiation or chemo therapy, pelvic or testicular surgery, a vasectomy and certain illnesses, diseases or injuries, you have the option of freezing and storing semen samples so you and your partner may use them to become pregnant in the future.
The first step in male infertility treatment
The great news is that male infertility can definitely be treated – and with excellent results. In fact, even men who were previously considered completely sterile now have an excellent chance to have their own child.
Once the exact cause of the male infertility challenge is identified, the right treatment from the extensive range of options can be selected.
There is only one way of determining for certain what the exact cause of your male fertility challenge is – and selecting the right treatment – and that is a first consultation with a fertility expert.
Fortunately, it is as simple as clicking here or contacting us on +27 (11) 463 2244 to book your initial consultation. You will meet one of our four specialists, who will discuss your medical history, conduct a comprehensive infertility work up, advise you of your options, and start to plan your treatments.