While many men will be celebrating Father’s Day this weekend, for some who are dealing with infertility, it could be very challenging time.
Infertility is (wrongfully) associated as being mainly a female challenge. Although it is true that women are the ones who carry the burden of the pregnancy and are the ones who undergo most of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) procedures and tests, it is also important to acknowledge that men struggle with infertility too. In fact, infertility affects men and women equally, and the emotional impact is as equal. In our previous blog, we listed the common causes of male and female infertility, and we will dedicate this blog to male infertility.
The most obvious symptom is the inability to conceive a child in 12 months of unprotected intercourse. However, there might be other underlying signs that are associated with male infertility such as problems with sexual function, pain, or swelling in the testicle area.
Alteration in sperm counts, motility, or morphology are the main causes of male infertility. This may be a result of the following conditions:
Male infertility can also occur when there are problems with sexual function, such as ejaculation problems or erectile dysfunction. Unfortunately, in some cases, male infertility cannot be determined but the good news it can still be treated.
There are other environmental risk factors that can reduce male fertility, such as exposure to excessive heat, radiation, toxins (such as alcohol, cigarettes or cannabis, etc) , heavy metals reduce sperm production or function. Men can help reduce the risks by simple lifestyle changes, such as keeping a healthy diet, avoiding excessive use of saunas and hot baths, as well alcohol, smoking, and stress.
The initial male fertility examination includes a review of medical history, a general physical exam, blood tests, and semen analysis.
Semen analysis is a useful fundamental tool that allows detection of 9 out of 10 men with a genuine problem of male infertility. The semen analysis will measure the number of sperm cells (quantity), look for any abnormalities sperm’s shape (morphology) and movement (motility). The lab will also check other parameters such as volume, sperm concentration, viscosity, fructose levels, PH levels, and any signs of infection. In most cases, several semen analysis tests are done over a period of time to offset the normal fluctuation in sperm counts.
The fertility specialist may order further tests such as a more comprehensive sperm analysis (CASA – computer assisted sperm analysis, anti sperm antibody screen, DNA fragmentation assay, etc), scrotal ultrasound, genetic testing, and testicular biopsy to complete the diagnosis
Based on the medical history and the diagnostic tests results the fertility specialist will determine the course of treatment. The treatment options may include:
Male infertility is a complex disease that may be caused by combination of several factors however, the good news is that in many of the cases of male infertility are treatable with the right treatment plan. Juno specialists will conduct comprehensive diagnostics testings that will allow us to tailor a course of treatment that is right for you. Most of these tests are covered by OHIP, so if you have concerns don’t hesitate, ask your family doctor for a referral or contact us.