Male Infertility

Conception is a complicated process, but INTEGRIS Health specialists have extensive experience identifying the root of infertility and helping to solve the problem.

Infertility is frustrating, but we can help.

Understanding Fertility

Conceiving a child may seem to be simple and natural, but the physiological process is actually quite complicated and depends on a number of factors – everything from healthy sperm and eggs to the sperm’s ability to fertilize, unblocked fallopian tubes, etc. It’s a complex, miraculous process, but each part has to work just right. That means there’s a lot of ways it can go wrong.

For a normally fertile, healthy young couple having regular, unprotected intercourse, there’s about a 20 percent chance for conception during each menstrual cycle. But infertility affects about 10 percent of couples of childbearing age – and about one third of infertility can be attributed to male factors.

The Good News

Fertility and conception are a complicated process, but INTEGRIS Health physicians, urologists and fertility specialists have extensive experience finding the root of infertility and helping to solve the problem. We’ll do all we can to help add another member to your young family.

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Understanding Male Infertility

There are a number of risk factors associated with male infertility. These include:

  • History of prostatitis or genital infection
  • Testicular trauma or torsion
  • History of early (precocious) or delayed puberty
  • Exposure to toxic substances or hazards such as lead, cadmium, mercury, ethylene oxide, vinyl chloride, radioactivity and X-rays
  • Cigarette or marijuana smoking
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Exposure of the genitals to high temperatures
  • Hernia repair
  • Undescended testicles
  • Prescription drugs for ulcers or psoriasis
  • DES taken by mother during pregnancy
  • Mumps after puberty

Potential causes of male infertility are numerous:

  • Sperm Disorders: Problems with the production and maturation of sperm are the most common causes of male infertility. Sperm may be immature, abnormally shaped or unable to move properly, or normal sperm may be produced in abnormally low numbers or not at all. This problem may be caused by many different conditions, including the following:
    • Infectious Diseases
    • Inflammatory Conditions
    • Endocrine or Hormonal Disorders: Such as Kallmann syndrome or a pituitary problem
    • Immunological Disorders in which some men produce antibodies to their own sperm
    • Genetic Diseases: Including cystic fibrosis, Noonan syndrome, myotonic dystrophy, hemochromatosis, sickle cell disease, sex reversal syndrome, androgen receptor gene mutation, chromosomal abnormalities or rearrangements and Y chromosome deletions.
    • Anatomical Abnormalities: Obstructions of the genital tract can cause infertility by partially or totally blocking the flow of seminal fluid. Some of these abnormalities may be of congenital (present at birth) origin or the result of a genetic defect. Others could have occurred due to infection or inflammation of the urogenital tract, surgery that left scar tissue in the genital tract, or the presence of varicose veins in the scrotum (scrotal varicoceles).
    • Immotile Cilia Syndrome: In this condition, the sperm count is normal but the spermatozoa are non-motile.
    • Mitochondrial Deletions: Mitochondria are structures in the cell responsible for energy production. There is actually a set of genes in the mitochondria, separate from the normal chromosome set contained in the nucleus. Recently, it has been discovered that these genes, when altered or deleted, can affect a person's health and/or fertility.
    • Liver Disease
    • Renal Disease
    • Treatment for Seizure Disorders
    • Other Factors: May arise from the defective delivery of sperm into the female genital tract, which could be caused by impotence or premature ejaculation.

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic testing for male factor infertility may include the following:

  • Semen Analysis: Semen is collected on-site to examine semen and sperm for various factors, such as semen volume, consistency, ph, ..etc
  • Other Tests: These are performed to determine the cause of sperm abnormalities or diseases of the male reproductive system.

Specific treatment for male factor infertility will be determined by your doctor based on your age, overall health, medical history and your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies. Of course, your personal opinions and preferences will also be taken into consideration. Treatments may include:

  • Artificial Insemination: This procedure involves the placement of relatively large numbers of healthy sperm either at the entrance of the cervix or into the partner's uterus, bypassing the cervix, to have direct access to the fallopian tubes.
  • IVF, GIFT and Other Techniques: In vitro fertilization (IVF) and gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT) have been used for the treatment of male infertility. As is the case with artificial insemination, IVF and similar techniques offer the opportunity to prepare sperm in vitro, so that oocytes are exposed to an optimal concentration of high quality, motile sperm.
  • Microsurgical Fertilization: This treatment is used to facilitate sperm penetration by injection of a single sperm into the oocyte. Fertilization then takes place under the microscope.
  • Drug Therapy: A small percentage of infertile men have a hormonal disorder that can be treated with hormone therapy. Hormonal imbalances caused by a dysfunction in the mechanism of interaction between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the testes directly affect the development of sperm (spermatogenesis). Drug therapy may include gonadotropin therapy, antibiotics, or another medication deemed appropriate.
  • Surgery: Surgical therapy in male infertility is designed to overcome anatomical barriers that impede sperm production and maturation or ejaculation. Surgical procedures to remove varicose veins in the scrotum (varicocele) can sometimes serve to improve the quality of sperm.

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