Dr Steve Green, Head Embryologist at Origin Fertility Care, part of the 3fivetwo Group talks to us a
About one in three cases of infertility is due to the man alone, and men are involved in infertility in about half the cases seen at Origin Fertility Care. Click here to find out more about male fertility problems...
Dr Green, is male infertility common?
About one in three cases of infertility is due to the man alone, and men are involved in infertility in about half the cases we see.
Is male infertility an age related condition?
Male factor infertility is not age related per se in the way it is in women but there are many causes of reduced male fertility, some of which are due to growing older.
Do you think there is a lack of awareness for male infertility?
It's a sad fact that in my experience male infertility is still a taboo subject. Many men don’t seek treatment and instead deny it which can in cases result in relationship problems. A lot of men are afraid to admit they have a problem but at Origin Fertility Care we are very open and willing to talk with male patients as they are very much central to the process. We offer a dedicated counselling service for both men and women who need to talk at any stage of treatment.
Male factor infertility is extremely treatable and men shouldn’t worry about any stigma surrounding it. Statistics show it is more common than most men think.
What can be the causes for male fertility problems?
Male fertility problems can be caused due to numerous factors. Any of the following can cause abnormality in male fertility. Tests are usually required to diagnose specific conditions and at Origin Fertility Care a semen sample is one of the first tests we would request.
Damaged testicles can seriously affect the quality of semen, manifested as decreased number of sperm, or no sperm at all. Decreased sperm motility, abnormal shapes.
Other causes include:
• An infection of the testicles
• Testicular cancer
• Testicular surgery
• A congenital defect (a problem at birth)
• Undescended testicles (when one or both testicles have not descended into the scrotum)
• Trauma (injury) to the testicles
Absence of sperm
The absence of sperm in the semen is known as obstructive azoospermia. This could be due to a blockage in one of the tubes that make up the reproductive system, commonly caused by an infection or surgery.
Absence of sperm can also be caused by:
- Sterilisation i.e. Vasectomy
Some men experience ejaculation problems that can make it difficult for them to ejaculate. Other ejaculation problems include:
• Retrograde ejaculation, where semen is ejaculated into your bladder
• Premature ejaculation, where ejaculation occurs too quickly
Hypogonadism is an abnormally low level of testosterone, the male sex hormone that is involved in making sperm. This could be due to a tumour, taking illegal drugs, or Klinefelter's syndrome (where a man is born with an extra female chromosome).
Can lifestyle choices affect male fertility?
Yes, there are quite a few lifestyle choices which can have a negative impact on male fertility. Many lifestyle choices can be changed and replaced with healthier options. Simple changes can often help improve male fertility and the quality of the sperm produced in the testicles.
Medicines and drugs
Certain types of drugs can sometimes cause infertility problems.
• Anabolic steroids, often used illegally to build muscle and improve athletic performance. Long-term use or abuse of anabolic steroids can reduce sperm count and sperm mobility.
• Chemotherapy –drugs used in chemotherapy can sometimes severely reduce sperm production.
• Herbal remedies – Some herbal remedies, such as root extracts of Tripterygium wilfordii (a Chinese herb), can affect the production of sperm or reduce the size of the testicles.
Illegal drugs such as marijuana and cocaine can also affect semen quality.
Drinking too much alcohol can damage the quality of your sperm.
Being overweight or obese reduces both male and female fertility. A healthy and active lifestyle can help improve fertility in both sexes.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
There are several STIs that can cause infertility. For example, chlamydia can damage the fallopian tubes in women, and cause swelling and tenderness of the scrotum in men.
Exposure to certain pesticides, metals, and solvents found in cigarettes can affect fertility in both men and women.
Stress can contribute to a loss of libido (sex drive); severe stress may also affect sperm production.
If you would like to find out more about male infertility or the treatments available at Origin Fertility Care, please visit www.originfertilitycare.com or call 028 9076 1713