Male infertility

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Male infertility 2016-11-10T12:49:24+00:00

Male infertility

The studies show that the problem of infertility affects ca 15-20% of couples in Poland. Despite the common access to information, there is still a common belief lingering on in the society, and in particular in its male part, that infertility is primarily the women’s problem.

Meanwhile the studies indicate that in 50% the causes of difficulties with conceiving can be attributable to the male partner. Based on the observations of the medical clinics in the world, in couples facing infertility the treatment is commenced most often only by the woman. Her partner does not want to acknowledge that he also can be infertile. Men affected by the disease have more difficulties in coping with the information about their infertility and tend to blame others for their imperfections. The news about the problem more often results in the decrease of their self-esteem, apathy, alienation, sometimes even aggression towards their family.

Couple’s infertility and infertility in men

According to the definition by the World Health Organisation (WHO), infertility is the inability to achieve pregnancy by a non-contracepting couple in one year of regular sexual intercourse with average frequency of three to four intercourses per week. According to various sources, this infertility affects every fifth or sixth couple in the world and in Poland it affects ca. 15-20% of couples. The highest percentage of couples with infertility problem is observed in African and South-American countries.

Male infertility, like couple’s infertility, is characterised by a man’s inability to impregnate his female partner in one year of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.

The studies indicate that in the recent several years in men the count of spermatozoa with normal motility and structure decreased significantly and the count of spermatozoa unable to fertilise the female egg increased. This is the result of many factors; the most common of them include: systemic diseases, testicular diseases, environmental factors, spermatozoon development disorders. Fortunately, there are many effective methods of treating male infertility.

However, before we start treatment, we should perform at least preliminary diagnostic tests – including CASA. Sperm DNA fragmentation test is also recommended. Learn more about diagnostic tests for me…

In the opinion of physicians, the male factor is the cause of infertility in couples in approximately 50% of cases.

TABOO topic

Male infertility is a difficult issue which until now has not been discussed willingly. Every man, at a certain stage of his life, wants to father a child, and he defines his inability to impregnate a woman as his personal failure. The male sex nature is such that its representatives have more difficulties with coping with the news of the disease. The observations of fertility clinics show that men more often than women have emotional problems caused by the disease and need the support of specialists and family.

Such state of affairs may also be due to the fact that the male infertility still is not discussed broadly. Despite growing awareness of the society and broad access to information, the sexual problems of men are still mentioned less willingly than the problems of the female part of society, both in media and in unofficial talks. Men affected by this disease can feel isolated and even ashamed. At the same time, the problem concerns as many as 15% men globally.

Causes of infertility in men

  • cardiovascular diseases
  • diabetes
  • thyroid diseases
  • liver disorders
  • hyperprolactinemia
  • chronic nephritis
  • pituitary hypofunction
  • genetic disorders
  • testicular cancer
  • varicocele
  • hydrocele testis
  • idiopathic testicular hypofunction
  • testicle injury in the course of viral diseases
  • testicle injuries
  • improper sperm cell motility
  • absence sperm cell motility
  • anomalies in spermatozoon structure
  • decreased count of spermatozoa in semen
  • anatomical and functional anomalies preventing spermatozoa from getting to semen
  • prostatitis
  • retrograde ejaculation
  • hypospadias
  • impotence
  • infections of organs within small pelvis
  • environmental factors
  • age above 40
  • chronic stress
  • overweight
  • alcohol abuse
  • smoking
  • excessive use of medications
  • wrong work conditions (e.g. exposure to toxic chemicals)

Tips for men willing to have children:

  • regular physical activity,
  • maintaining appropriate body mass,
  • low-fat, high-protein diet rich in whole grain products, fruit and vegetables,
  • diet rich in selenium and zinc which are necessary for the proper maturation of spermatozoa. The adequate supply of zinc in the diet helps in obtaining sexual function and fertility,
  • adequate supply of vitamin C which improves absorption of valuable compounds in the digestive tract and prolongs the viability and survival of spermatozoa. In addition, vitamin protects the DNA of spermatozoa against damage caused by free radicals,
  • taking vitamin E which improves fertility in men.

Facts and myths

MYTH. The majority of disorders which cause male infertility are asymptomatic.

At the time of undergoing routine annual health checks it is worth visiting also an andrologist who specialises in the treatment of male reproductive system. Such specialist deals also with endocrine (hormone), vascular, surgical and psychological aspects of male health. It is also recommended, in particular in the case of couples trying to conceive a child, that a male partner undergo general semen analysis for potential irregularities.

MYTH. There are many methods of improving semen parameters in men, starting from general recommendations relating to changing the lifestyle and ending with pharmacological and surgical treatment.

Not every abnormality in the semen analysis qualifies a man to complicated and long-lasting treatment. In many cases a change in the lifestyle is sufficient: a healthy, balanced diet, balanced daily meals meeting the energy demands of a man in a given age, avoiding stimulants, alcohol, caffeine, smoking, stabilising body mass, increasing physical activity and limiting daily stress.

MYTH. Very often erection or ejaculation problems are a transient phenomenon resulting from the stressful lifestyle, improper diet, alcohol and tobacco abuse or lack of sleep.

A visit to an andrologist and the patient interview help in the initial assessment of the cause of problems and in the treatment planning. Very often the problems with erection or ejaculation resolve after changing the lifestyle and the diet. It is important to visit the specialist when the disturbing symptoms are noticed. Ignoring the erection disorders for a long time may lead to serious medical conditions.

MYTH. The men with testicular neoplasms are advised to have their semen frozen and to use the so-called semen deposit prior to the commencement of oncological treatment.

The deposit is recommended also for young men with cancer who do not have a permanent partner and don’t plan having children in the coming years. Storing a healthy ejaculate in semen banks warrants fertility preservation for many years. A man after cancer treatment (chemo- or radiotherapy) can use his semen from the deposit and, with IVF method, become a biological father.