Male Infertility Treatment
In around 30% to 40% of the infertility cases that we work with at Cape Fertility, there is a male infertility factor involved – meaning that the cause of a couple’s infertility is due to, or partly due to, a medical problem experienced by the male partner. The truth is that male infertility is far more common than many people realise.
Fortunately, it is also true that there are a range of male infertility treatments available for the many possible causes of male infertility.
In this article, we look at some of the possible causes of male infertility, the male infertility treatments that are available today and how you can know which male infertility treatment is the right for you.
What could cause of male infertility?
Understanding the relevant parts of male anatomy is helpful to understand the many possible causes of male infertility.
The actual sperm is made in the testicles. This sperm is then stored in the epididymis, which is like a holding area. From there, the sperm needs to travel up through a long pipe, which is called the vas deferens. This is what is obstructed during a vasectomy. Once the sperm travels through the vas deferens and gets closer to the bladder, it will meet with a bunch of glands that will create some fluid, with which the sperm is transported. This fluid is very important for protecting the sperm inside of the vaginal environment and for providing the sperm with nutrition.
Given this process, there are many factors that can contribute to male infertility. There might be some very obvious reason for male factor infertility, such as a vasectomy. However, even if you had a male sterilization previously, we do have treatment options to address this. Another example of an obvious reason is men who have spinal cord injuries. We have many patients with spinal cord injuries and we can also assist with this.
To identify less obviously possible causes, we start by examining your medical history to find out about any medical conditions or any medication that could be affecting the ability to have an erection or to ejaculate, or that could affect sperm quality. That could include previous surgery, especially in the groin area, and any previous injuries, such as a torsion which can happen when someone is kicked in the groin. If a man needed medical attention or even had surgery to untwist a testicle after a kick in the groin, there may be damage that can be an underlying infertility problem. We also determine if there was a previous mumps infection, or any STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). In addition, a serious illness or even a high fever can still affect sperm production two to three months later.
We also investigate lifestyle factors that may be affecting male fertility. An unhealthy lifestyle – including being overweight; smoking; or drinking excessively – can affect your sperm parameters and make a big difference in the quality of the sperm.
Male fertility levels can also decline due to several causes such as age, stress, a compromised immune system, and environmental factors like working with chemicals and heat caused by tight briefs, hot tubs and saunas.
One of the infertility factors that men are often quite embarrassed about is difficulty with sexual performance. But this is an important factor because to achieve a pregnancy, the sperm needs to get to the uterus and that requires ejaculation. So, if the male partner is struggling with erectile dysfunction, which is a difficulty in obtaining or maintaining an erection, or an ejaculatory dysfunction, there are medications and different treatments that can help for this.
Another factor men are often uncomfortable talking about is the use of steroids or testosterone. It is important, however, because the extra testosterone that is injected causes the body to stop making its own testosterone and that affects sperm production. Treatment requires that the use of steroids be stopped, realising that the body will not recover immediately – it takes a while.
When the male infertility factors mentioned above have been considered, the next step is to collect a sperm sample for testing.
This is because problems with sperm production or the quality of the sperm are the top causes of infertility in men. In fact, male fertility is defined by the “sperm quality”, which refers to semen volume, sperm count, sperm motility (movement) and sperm morphology (shape). Based on your semen analysis report, we can make recommendations for treatment.
Sometimes, if the results are not very clear and it is more difficult to decide, we might recommend a diagnostic wash. During a diagnostic wash, in our state-of-the-art lab will take the sperm sample and run it through the system that we usually use to get sperm samples ready for an insemination.
Male infertility treatments
Fortunately, whatever medical challenge there may be related to the production of sperm or the quality thereof, there are advanced treatments available.
The treatment or combination of treatments are often highly individual and obviously depend on what is revealed by the semen analysis report.
If there is an abnormality, the treatments considered will depend on how severe that abnormality is. For example, there will be a difference in the treatments recommended for someone who’s got 5 to 10 million sperm with very good motility and someone who has only 1 or 2 million sperm.
Based on the test results, we can decide on the best treatment. For example, the test may show a slightly reduced semen analysis, indicating that insemination is an option. Insemination is a treatment for male infertility in which we extract the sperm that is motile from a sperm sample, if there is enough sperm and it is of good enough quality, and put it inside the female partner’s uterus (womb) at the time of ovulation.
If there’s a severe limitation on the amount of sperm, there are other alternatives such as IVF or ICSI, during which the sperm is actually injected into the egg in a lab.
Even if there is absolutely no sperm in the sample, there are medical and surgical options available to address this, and if those options are not suitable, there is always the option of a sperm donation.
Where to get male infertility treatment
We offer many advanced treatments at our purpose-built premises in the beautiful city of Cape Town, with procedure rooms and a modern sophisticated laboratory adjacent to our Main Reception and Staff Offices. These facilities, along with our experienced team, ensure all the latest fertility treatments are used with great success at Cape Fertility.
There is only one way, however, to know for certain what the exact cause is of your fertility challenges – and thus what treatment is the best given your unique circumstances: an initial consultation with a fertility specialist. Arranging your initial consultation is as simple as contacting us here…
At Cape Fertility, we value each individual patient and we look forward to providing you with individualised and personalised care, affordable quality fertility treatment, and higher success rates at our purpose-built premises in the beautiful city of Cape Town.
The information for this article is drawn from a recent video Male Factor Infertility – The Sperm Test by Dr Lizle Oosthuizen, one of our highly qualified and impressively experienced fertility specialists at Cape Fertility. You can watch the video here…