What Couples Need to Know About Male Infertility
Published On: 04/28/2016
In recognition of National Infertility Awareness Week- April 24 – 30, 2016 – Chesapeake Urology sexual health and fertility specialists point out that infertility is not always about the woman. Male factor infertility is more common than most people realize. In fact, about 15% of all couples are infertile and up to 50 percent of these infertile couples will have a male factor component. And, 30% of couples will not be able to conceive solely because of a male factor.
Yet, when infertility becomes an obstacle to conceiving a child, most people, and many physicians, initially jump to testing the female first. However, having the man tested initially for infertility is much easier, faster and less invasive than the fertility tests, and subsequent treatments, for a woman.
Causes of Male Infertility
According to David Fenig, M.D., male fertility specialist and microsurgeon at Chesapeake Urology and The Vasectomy Reversal Center of America, “Male infertility is most commonly caused by problems with the production and maturation of sperm, which can be immature, abnormally shaped, or unable to “swim” properly. Sometimes normal sperm is produced in abnormally low numbers (oligospermia) or seemingly not at all (azoospermia).”
There are a number of conditions that can cause male infertility, including:
- Varicoceles, which are like varicose veins in the spermatic cord; about 30% of men who have infertility have varicoceles and are the number one reason why men have secondary infertility.
- Vasectomy (which can subsequently be reversed by a microsurgical procedure known as a vasectomy reversal.)
- Undescended testicles or prior testicular surgery.
- Obstruction or blockage, which can be corrected by a delicate microsurgical procedure to remove blockages and restore sperm production and transport.
- Infections of the testicle and chronic inflammatory conditions.
- Endocrine or hormonal disorders like low testosterone.
- Testosterone or steroid use.
“When it comes to infertility, men do not typically have the opportunity to see a specialist about their issues as often as women do. Yet, men deserve to be examined by a male infertility specialist if for no other reason than to rule out any serious conditions that could be an underlying factor for infertility, whether it’s a varicocele, hormonal abnormality or other medical issue,” says Karen Boyle, M.D., sexual health and fertility specialist with Chesapeake Urology and The Vasectomy Reversal Center of America.
Vasectomy Reversal vs. IVF
If female fertility is not the issue and the male partner has had a vasectomy, couples should consider the choices – vasectomy reversal or In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)? A prior vasectomy is often viewed by couples as a major obstacle to conceiving a child naturally. Many couples may not realize that a vasectomy can be successfully reversed, even if the vasectomy was performed decades ago.
Microsurgical vasectomy reversal is a delicate and complex operation performed to re-establish the pathway of sperm into the ejaculate, permitting a man to re-establish his fertility.
There are several factors that may make vasectomy reversal a better option than IVF for many couples including:
- Lower cost
- Higher pregnancy rates
- No invasive treatments and procedures for the woman
- Higher success rates
“When performed by a highly skilled and trained microsurgeon such as the surgeons at the Vasectomy Reversal Center of America, success rates for a vasectomy reversal are over 90%,” states Brad Lerner, M.D., microsurgeon and male infertility specialist. “Regardless of whether a couple decides on IVF or vasectomy reversal, the specialists at the Vasectomy Reversal Center of America are committed to providing patients with all of the information to help in making an informed decision. In the end, our ultimate goal is helping more couples realize their dream of having a baby.”
To learn more about vasectomy reversal and The Vasectomy Reversal Center of America, visit http://vasectomyreversalcenterofamerica.com/.
To learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of male infertility, visit the following Chesapeake Urology physician websites: