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A subject shunned for far too long, we turn a much-needed spotlight on male infertility Male infertility is usually discussed in hushed whispers, like a top-secret subject reserved for clandestine conversations. The trouble is, we’re conditioned to believe that the causes of a couple’s infertility stem from the female partner. “Oh, she waited too long.” “It must be her weight.” “Just imagine, the stress of her lifestyle.” And yet, flip the gender, and the remarks lose their gravitas. Male infertility isn’t discussed as openly as it should be. But considering 40% of infertile couples are affected by male-factor infertility, it’s a subject that should and must be advocated.
First, let’s look at the causes.
Causes of male infertility
Male infertility is typically attributed to the following causes: Abnormal sperm production Triggers: Genetic problems, undescended testes, varicocele, diabetes, or infections like HIV, mumps, gonorrhoea or chlamydia Sperm delivery dysfunction Triggers: Sexual problems, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, genetic diseases, testicular blockages, or organ damage Environmental exposure Triggers: Chemicals or pesticides, radiation, smoking, alcohol, drugs and steroids, or excessive heat (e.g. bathtubs and saunas) Effects of cancer treatment Triggers: Chemotherapy and radiation, which can significantly compromise sperm production Symptoms of male infertility Male infertility manifests in an inability to get pregnant. Sometimes, in addition, men may also experience: 1.A change in libido or sexual function 2.Altered hair growth
When to seek help from a specialist If you’ve been trying consistency to conceive for at least a year (where the woman is below 35), or six months (where the woman is above 35); or if you have any of the conditions mentioned below, it’s a good idea to consult a fertility specialist to have yourself and your partner examined: 1.Low sperm count 2.History of testicular, sexual or prostate problems 3.History of chemotherapy or radiation for cancer treatment 4.Inflammation in the scrotum 5.Family history of infertility Andrology services at BirthRight Fertility by Rainbow At BirthRight Fertility by Rainbow, our andrologists pay careful attention to detail while designing fertility solutions. Our tailored male infertility treatments take several parameters into consideration, including your and your partner’s age and medical history. Some of our treatments - which may be used independently or in combination - are highlighted below. Medical treatment Medication can be helpful in cases of erectile dysfunction, hormonal disorders and infections. While hormonal disorders are usually prescribed hormone replacement therapy, antibiotics are generally preferred in treating infections. Surgical treatment Physical problems such as blockages, prior vasectomies and swollen testicles usually require surgical intervention as a way of correcting the fertility problem at hand. Assisted reproductive technologies Fertility technologies can be life-changing for couples with a minimal sperm count, or other problems that hinder natural conception. Fertility technologies typically involve sperm extraction, followed by intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilisation or intracytoplasmic sperm injection cycles. Dealing with male infertility If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with male-factor infertility, take heart. By talking about it with a trusted family member or a close friend, you can unburden yourself from some of the pressure you might be feeling. Alternatively, seek out a counsellor or psychologist who can help guide you through a mindful therapy. Qualified counsellors can direct you to support groups that can help you find inspiring examples of couples with previously similar problems who have succeeded in building their family. There’s strength in speaking out. Whether you’ve been trying to conceive for a while, have already received a diagnosis, or have recently embarked on your fertility treatment journey, trust that you’re on the right path. With fertility guidance and professional help and resources, the load will seem much lighter, and the future much brighter.
MD, DNB, MRCOG (UK)
Rainbow Children's Hospital, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad