BACKGROUND: Infertility is defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy after one year of unprotected intercourse. An estimated 15% of couples meet this criterion and are considered infertile, with approximately 35% due to female factors alone, 30% due to male factors alone, 20% due to a combination of female and male factors, and 15% unexplained. Conditions of the male that affect fertility are still generally underdiagnosed and undertreated. (SOURCE: http://emedicine.medscape.com/)
CAUSES: Male infertility has many causes; from hormonal imbalances, to physical problems, to psychological and/or behavioral problems. Moreover, fertility reflects a man’s “overall” health. Men who live a healthy lifestyle are more likely to produce healthy sperm. The following list highlights some lifestyle choices that negatively impact male fertility--it is not all-inclusive:
· Overly intense exercise produces high levels of adrenal steroid hormones, which can cause a testosterone deficiency, resulting in infertility.
· Tight underwear increases scrotal temperature, which results in decreased sperm production.
SYMPTOMS: The main sign of male infertility is the inability to conceive a child. There may be no other obvious signs or symptoms. In some cases, however, an underlying problem, such as, an inherited disorder, hormonal imbalance, or a condition that blocks the passage of sperm, may cause signs and symptoms. Male infertility signs and symptoms can include:
· Pain, swelling, or a lump in the testicle area
· Decreased facial or body hair, or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality
· Having a lower than normal sperm count (fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen or a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculate)
TREATMENT:Doctors try to improve fertility by either correcting an underlying problem, if one is found, or trying treatments that seem like they may be helpful. Treatments for male infertility include:
· Hormone treatments and medications: Doctors may recommend hormone replacement or medications in cases where infertility is caused by high or low levels of certain hormones or problems with the way the body uses hormones.
· Assisted reproductive technology (ART): ART treatments involve obtaining sperm through normal ejaculation, surgical extraction, or from donor individuals. The sperm is then inserted into the female genital tract, or used to perform in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
* For More Information, Contact:
Dr. Sherman J. Silber, M.D.
Infertility Center of St. Louis