Infertility affects both men and women and it is important for both partners to be assessed. If after 12 months of unprotected sex you and your partner have failed to achieve pregnancy, you should see your GP for a semen analysis.
Symptoms of infertility in men
There are a few symptoms of infertility in men, the most obvious symptom is the inability to impregnate a female partner.
Other symptoms of male infertility include:
Loss of libido and lack of interest in sex. This indicates low testosterone levels.
Problems with ejaculation.
Abnormalities within the testes such as lumps or testicular pain.
Age is an important factor to consider when trying to become pregnant as this an impact on the reproductive organs. Difficulty reproducing could be due to impaired sperm parameters or impaired sexual function.
Causes of male infertility
There are three main causes for male infertility, which can be grouped into pre-testicular, testicular and post-testicular causes.
Pre-testicular causes of male infertility are mostly hormone-related. This means that there is inadequate support for the testes including poor hormonal support.
Testicular causes include birth defects, cancer, infection, injury, medications, smoking and excessive alcohol. These factors may result in low sperm count or low sperm quality.
Post-testicular causes include cystic fibrosis, obstruction to the sperm passage and vasectomy. Here, the issues occur after sperm production ie: in the genital tract or during ejaculation.
Other contributing factors may include ejaculation issues, erectile dysfunction, sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) and stress.
Male fertility test
There are a number of things that will need to be assessed when you undergo a male fertility test. In most cases you will need to have a medical assessment followed by a physical assessment.
The physical assessment will check for any abnormalities within the urine and there will be a semen analysis. A semen analysis will take into account the shape, number and movement of the sperm.
Depending on the semen analysis, it may be that you will need to have a blood test to assess your hormone levels. Other tests may include a PSA test, a genetic studies test or an ultrasound of the testes.
Male infertility treatment
Following a male fertility test, your doctor may suggest male infertility treatment. There are a few ways in which male infertility can be treated:
Antibiotic treatment – treating infections within the reproductive tract with a course of antibiotics may clear up the infection and restore fertility.
Hormonal treatment – medication may be prescribed in order to replace hormones or correct hormonal levels (low or high).
Sexual intercourse problems – erectile dysfunction and ejaculation issues which are affecting fertility can be treated with medication or counseling.
Surgical procedures – the varicocele can be corrected, vasectomies can be reversed and sperm can be retrieved from the testicles.
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is a treatment where the sperm is obtained through ejaculation or surgical extraction and then inserted into the female genital tract. Though this method will not treat infertility, it can help couples become pregnant.
Following treatment, many couples can go on to become pregnant naturally.
In some cases, although very rare, male infertility cannot be treated and it is impossible for a man to father a child. Your doctor may then suggest that you try an alternative method such as adoption or using a sperm donor. The decision will depend on you and your partners’ wishes and should be discussed thoroughly.
We hope you found this article on the symptoms of infertility in men useful. For more information on male infertility treatment, visit London Urologist.
Mr Vinod Nargund is a Consultant Urological Surgeon specialising in Urological cancer, male sexual and fertility problems. He was trained in Urology at the City Hospital Belfast, the Royal Infirmary Bradford and the Churchill and John Radcliffe Hospitals in Oxford. You can view all of his qualifications on his biography page.