Truth about Male Fertility

Male fertility is the ability of a man to procreate. When it comes to having children, it is not just the woman’s fertility that matters, but also that of a man. Till now, there was hardly any talk about male fertility as it was never a matter of consideration. Males were just assumed to be fertile without question.

Male fertility is no longer robust. Today there is much concern for the fertility of the younger generation males. Things seem to have gone awry. Childbearing is no longer a process that just happens naturally when the divine presence bestows a blessing. Male fertility has been on a steady decline. Fertility problems are no longer just a feminine problem. Men are as susceptible to suffering from fertility problems as women are.

Though researchers are not sure what has attributed to this sudden decline in male fertility, they have put the blame of lifestyle changes. Genetically modified foods, pesticides and chemicals in our food, high levels of pollution and toxins in our environment, contamination in our water, vegetables and fruit injected with hormones, acid rain and many other factors all contribute to the havoc of our health and fertility. There is no one area to pin the blame, and it is a culmination of multiple factors put together in varying proportions that are slowing working towards the elimination of mankind by hampering reproduction.

Why is male fertility raising concerns?
There are many reasons for concern regarding male fertility. Over 15% of our male population is facing a problem with infertility. So many men are infertile and not able to father children. This is not normal and should be a matter that is looked at seriously from a global perspective. There is a rise of male infertility in all countries, including countries in the African continent and the Middle East, which at one time boasted of a high fertility rate and fast-growing population. India is also on the same role with increasing infertility numbers by the year.

The Indian tradition was quite simple until a few decades ago. When a young man gets married within a few years, he is expected to start a family. When no baby comes along the elders in the family start hinting about having children. Today with the concept of delayed pregnancy, the elders are not sure if the delay is planned or if there is a medical problem that is preventing pregnancy. A decade or two ago if no baby happened within 2 years, the wife was declared barren and ill-treated for the curse she has brought upon the family. However, today, times have changed. Couple use birth control and plan their families. Having children is mandatory, and a couple cannot escape that duty. Those who have problems with getting pregnant can seek medical help. A barren woman is no longer a curse but just has a medical problem for which there is a solution. Another benefit of fertility testing is that it can be clearly ascertained if it is really a case of female infertility or whether the male is the infertile one.

The compulsion to have children is the reason that there are numerous fertility clinics in India. In the days gone by, when there was a problem with fertility, it was a woman problem and a gynaecologist would either solve the problem or declare her infertile. Today it is no longer just a female problem as men also have fertility problems that prevent them from making their partner pregnant. Male fertility has never received much attention in the past, but today, there is a need for awareness and precautionary measures to prevent male infertility.

WHAT IS MALE FERTILITY?

The word fertility is associated with the ability to procreate. It is defined as being fruitful or productive. Fertility is also considered as the ability to conceive and have children. A man who is able to make his wife or female partner pregnant is fertile. For centuries male fertility has been at its peak. Rarely was there a man who was not able to father children. If a couple were not able to conceive, it was always the woman who got the blame for being barren. Male fertility was never questioned. A man whose wife could not give him children took another wife who could give him children, and she did. A man’s ability to father children was never a matter of concern. Unless, in rare cases when a man received some injury to the pelvic area, which rendered him unable to procreate.

Today male fertility is no longer what it used to be. One out of every six couples who visit a fertility clinic for infertility problems is diagnosed with a case of male infertility. The men also have to take responsibility for not being able to produce children.

FACTORS AFFECTING MALE FERTILITY

What are the factors that influence male fertility? This is a very broad subject and difficult to categorise. Every aspect of life has some significance in fertility. Let us look at some of them.

Poor lifestyle habits
It is fine to say that poor lifestyle habits are the cause of male infertility, but what exactly do we call poor lifestyle habits? Over the years, our whole lifestyle has changed. The most common negative habits that we like to pin the blame on are smoking, alcohol, drugs and late-night partying. All of these have a damaging effect on fertility, but there is more to it. It is the very way we live our life and the way we think. The lack of exercise and the dependence on technology to lead a sedentary lifestyle is the norm. We carry our work home and spend time on electronic devices rather than on healthy human interaction and stress relieving exercise like family time and face to face conversation with fellow human beings.

Happiness and fertility
Happiness can affect fertility. A positive mindset does have multiple health benefits. Some scientists have admitted it while others try and deny it. The truth is that they don’t understand it. But research has proved that men who are depressed and generally possess a negative mindset are more likely to suffer from fertility problems than those men who have a positive mindset. It may seem like a strange thing, but the mind is powerful, and our thoughts influence our very health and wellbeing. There are cases of healing that have occurred just through adopting a positive resolve and a determined mindset. So if you want good sperm to try and maintain a happy frame of mind, it has been found that men who have a generally happy disposition have healthier and active sperm.

Stress and fertility
Does stress play a negative role in fertility? For a long time, researchers ignored it, but now there is enough scientific evidence to prove that there is a negative effect of stress on male fertility. Men who have very stressful lives have a lower sperm count. Stress interferes with the hormone-producing gland in the brain, causing lower production of sperm. Stress also affects other areas of our health and induces heart problems, blood pressure, liver and other abdominal problems among various others. Stress encourages people to eat more comfort foods which are generally unhealthy foods, and this leads to obesity. If you are keen to have a baby, you need to introduce some destress practices to improve the quality of your sperm.

MALE INFERTILITY CONDITIONS

There are many things that can lead a man to be categorised as infertile. A man’s contribution to pregnancy is his sperm. Everything else is done by the woman. So a male needs to ensure that his sperm are good and at least on sperm is capable of fertilising the female egg. When it comes to male sperm, there are two broad areas of infertility concerns:

  • Poor quality sperm
  • Azoospermia

All of the male fertility problems fall under these two categories:

Poor quality sperm
What is it that categorises the sperm quality as poor? By what means is the sperm judged that it is so definitively called poor quality? These are very valid questions for a male to ask. When it comes to male sperm, there are certain specifics that categorise it as poor or good quality. Male sperm has three main areas of concern, which are the sperm count, sperm shape and sperm movement. If the quantity of sperm in the ejaculate is below a certain defined minimum amount, then you have a low sperm count. For fertilization, the sperm has to swim from the cervix to the fallopian tubes through the uterus. Sperm with good movement and swimming capabilities can make this journey easier. A male ejaculate has to have a certain percentage of sperm that have the swimming capabilities and the energy for this task. The shape of the sperm matters in two spheres, Sperm that are properly shaped can swim easily. Abnormally shaped sperm can have double tails, short tails or crooked tails which affects its ability to swim. Sperm needs to penetrate the egg using its head. A well-shaped head makes egg penetration easy. Sperm with an abnormally shaped head may not be able to penetrate the egg even if it reaches it. Hence, poor quality sperm are not going to be of much use when it comes to conception.

Azoospermia
Some men have no sperm in their semen. Azoospermia is a fertility condition when the semen does not contain any sperm. The inability to ejaculate sperm could stem from a number of different reasons. It could be due to a blockage in the vas deferens or no production of sperm. Some men have had a vasectomy, and hence their semen does not contain any sperm. There are a number of medical conditions that cause azoospermia like infections, venereal diseases, prostatitis or blockage of the tubes.

Men who suffer from azoospermia can have a sperm retrieval procedure. This is a microsurgical procedure in which the sperm are extracted directly from the testes. Usually, this procedure is performed under anaesthesia. The most common technique involves using a hollow syringe to extract the sperm from the epididymis. The sperm is produced in the testes and stored in an area in the lower part of the testes called the epididymis.

There are many treatment options for male infertility through assisted reproductive technique. Fertility clinics like Medicover specialise in providing assistance to couples who are unable to conceive due to male infertility conditions.

STD AND MALE FERTILITY

Sexually transmitted diseases do their fair share of damage, and one needs to be careful about taking preventive measure to avoid contracting it. Most sexually transmitted diseases cause an infection which if not treated immediately can cause infertility in men.

Dhiraj had contracted a sexually transmitted disease prior to getting married to Rachna. She contacted the disease from her husband. During her next regular medical check-up with the gynaecologist, this problem was diagnosed, and she was given medication to contain it. Dhiraj, on the other hand, did not bother about getting any treatment. When Rachna did not conceive after a year of marriage, they were taken to visit a fertility consultant. Dhiraj was diagnosed as infertile due to the severe damage caused due to the neglected STD. His sperm was damaged, and the quality was very poor. Fertility treatment was the only option for the couple to conceive. IVF treatment with the ICSI technique was recommended. The ICSI is an advanced technology fertility treatment which ensures fertilisation even with very poor quality sperm. Males with damaged sperm are usually advised to use donor sperm for the IVF treatment as their sperm cannot fertilise the egg naturally. However, the ICSI technique has opened new doors for successful fertilisation even with poor quality sperm. The ICSI treatment has a fertilisation success rate of 80%. Since Rachna was at the peak of her fertility, she was able to conceive easily once the embryo was transferred to her uterus.

STD can be very dangerous for male fertility and should be treated immediately. There are a number of different types of infections, and these can cause a variety of problems for the male, including urinary infections and more.

TYPES OF MALE FERTILITY TREATMENT

There are several types of treatments for male infertility. The type of treatment is decided based on the infertility diagnosis that is concluded from the test results.

Intra-Uterine Insemination(IUI) is the most popular treatment that you will find in India. Even gynaecologists recommend IUI to most of their patients who have unexplained fertility problems or male fertility problems. This treatment requires no special equipment or operation theatre. It is such a simple procedure that it can even be performed in the doctor’s office on the examination table. The IUI procedure takes about 10 to 15 minutes. It is quick, easy and painless. In no time you are out of there.

IUI is also popularly known as artificial insemination. There is so much talk about artificial insemination that some couples do not even know that there are other fertility options beyond this. IUI is also popular because it is a low-cost treatment and affordable to many of the not so well off sections of Indian society.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection(ICSI) is a relatively new technique that has proved to be very successful in treating male infertility. It is basically a fertilisation technique. There are two critical steps in fertility treatment for a successful pregnancy. The first is fertilisation of the egg to form an embryo and the second is implantation of the embryo in the uterine lining. ICSI has enabled fertility clinics to cross the first hurdle with the use of ICSI treatment. The blastocyst transfer has made a significant difference in increasing the success rate for implantation. Hence the use of advanced fertility techniques has shown great improvement in fertility treatment success.

MALE FERTILITY TREATMENT AT MEDICOVER

Medicover Fertility Clinic is a leading fertility chain which provides world-class treatment for male infertility problems. Men suffer from a variety of infertility conditions which ranges from poor quality sperm to no sperm. Medicover Fertility Clinic is well equipped to handle all kinds of male fertility problems with a vast number of treatment options.

The use of advanced technology fertility treatments available at Medicover enables the patients to receive specific and specialised treatment that can help their particular condition. Men who suffer from azoospermia can undergo sperm retrieval procedure. The type of sperm retrieval, on the condition of infertility. If a male is not producing sperm, tissue samples are removed from the testes and inspected for the presence of sperm that may still be there. In many cases, some sperm are found, and this enables the couple to have their biological child. If the sperm is not present in the semen due to a blockage in the tube, the sperm is extracted from the epididymis.

Many couples come to Medicover after having experienced failed IVF treatment at various unprofessional fertility clinics. Medicover provides a very professional fertility treatment and is totally transparent with the patients regarding each procedure of the treatment. Every stage is explained to the patient before it is carried out. The risks and precautions are also explained.

Medicover is a leading fertility chain in Delhi and has 13 clinics in North India. These clinics cater to patients from all over India and some international countries as well.

FAQ’S

I was treated for cancer several years ago. Doctors told me that it would affect my sperm quality. Can I try to have a baby?

A :Some chemo medication is flushed out of the body after about two years enabling men to produce healthy sperm once again. Have a semen analysis test before proceeding to try for a baby. This will help your doctor to determine if your sperm quality has recovered from the effects of the cancer medication.

Can male infertility be cured? My semen has a very limited sperm quantity.

A :Lack of sperm in the semen could be due to some obstruction in the tubes that transport the sperm to the ejaculatory duct. Tubal blockages can be removed by a surgical procedure which will help to restore the flow of sperm into the semen.

I have low sperm count. Should I go for IUI or ICSI fertility treatment?

A :If your sperm motility and sperm morphology are normal, then IUI is the recommended treatment. However, if there is a problem with sperm quality, then ICSI is preferable for a successful pregnancy.