Tackling Challenges To Fatherhood
As sensitive as the issue is, when it comes to problems related to conceiving a child, the woman is usually focused upon. Perhaps this is because she has to become pregnant and carry the baby for nine months inside her. Let’s not forget, however, that it’s the man who has to impregnate his partner, so he does have an important part to play. In fact, studies have shown that one out of every three cases of infertility is due to the man.
To be diagnosed with male infertility can be disheartening as it is challenging, for not being able to father a child can make a man feel like he’s incapable of fulfilling one of his most primal duties. For some, unfortunately, nothing can be done to remedy that situation. But for others, there have been some great development and advances in male infertility treatment, opening doors to the gratifying and blessed world of fatherhood.
What makes a man infertile?
Most of the time, in males with fertility issues, the problem is tracked down to the process of either making the sperm or moving it to where it should go. Hence, any of the following can cause a man to have fertility issues:
- Varicocele – A correctable condition, varicocele is an abnormal formation of bulging veins above the testicle. They’re the most common cause of infertility, accounting for 38% of cases
- Undescended testicle
- Infections in the testicle (orchitis), the prostate (prostatitis), or elsewhere in the body
- Chemotherapy treatments
- Medicines being taken for other health issues
- Genetic abnormalities or defects
- Hormonal factors
If there is a reversible problem, an initial evaluation by a physician will be the first step in identifying and treating it.
When making sperm is not the problem
In some male bodies, the sperm is made but the issue is that they can’t travel efficiently, hence can’t get to the egg to fertilise it. Men with this type of male infertility have normal sperm in the testicles, but in the semen, however, the sperm are either abnormal, very low in number, or not there at all. Causes of these include:
- Retrograde ejaculation. In this condition, semen ejaculates backwards into the bladder instead of out the penis. In most cases, a previous surgery is the cause.
- The absence of the main sperm pipeline known as the vas deferens. This condition is a genetic problem.
- Obstruction. An obstruction can occur anywhere between the testicles and the penis.
- Anti-sperm antibodies. Yes, you’re reading this right, for antibodies can abnormally attack a man’s own sperm on their way to the egg.
- When no reason can be found
- Up to 25% of infertile men have idiopathic infertility. That means they have abnormal or low sperm counts and there seems no identifiable reason for this.
Male infertility tests
Identifying the cause of a man’s infertility can be a very tiring journey, but for a chance at fatherhood, many men have gone through the various steps and many lucky ones are now dads. The first step, of course, is to see a doctor specializing in male infertility. So what happens during these check-ups?
- Full physical examination – A thorough physical exam can detect abnormalities that could be tied to one’s infertility problem, and also give clues to possible hormone problems. These check-ups will usually be performed by a urologist.
- Sperm and semen analysis – In a typical procedure, you will be provided with a private room that is conducive in helping you provide a fresh sample of semen, which will be assessed on their count, shape, movement, and other variables.
- Hormone evaluation – Testosterone and multiple hormones made in the brain control sperm production, although hormones are not the main problem in most men.
- Testicular biopsy – This is done for men with very low or no sperm in their semen. A needle biopsy of the testicle can show whether a man is making healthy sperm. If abundant good sperm are found in the testicle, there’s likely a blockage somewhere.
- Genetic testing – Genetic tests can identify specific obstacles to fertility and problems with sperm. This can be somewhat challenging to a man’s emotions and spirit, for it may pinpoint problems that are difficult or impossible to remedy.
Treatment for male infertility
The ultimate goal of any infertility treatment is to, ultimately, achieve conception and create a pregnancy. If the cause of the infertility is reversible, there may be a favourable ending and conception can result from natural sex. Here are some common male infertility treatments.
- Treating Varicoceles – Varicoceles can be reversed by means of surgery, where the abnormal veins are blocked off.
- Correcting hormonal abnormalities – This can be done either via surgery or with certain medicines. Sometimes, a doctor may look into the man’s lifestyle to determine if there are any habitual factors that could be causing this faulty imbalance in his hormones.
- Removing obstructions – Obstructions in the sperm’s mobility can be corrected by surgery, where many men have successfully overcome their issue and are no longer infertile.
- Assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs) – ARTs offer powerful new options that help to deal and treat men’s fertility issues, even some that were deemed irreversible in the past.
These high-tech procedures are undeniable pricey and they work by giving sperm a much-needed artificial boost to get into an egg. Through ARTs, even men with very low or abnormal sperm have proceeded to father children!
Other Things To Avoid
An expanding waistline is no friend to fertility
Both a man and his partner should watch their weight if starting a family is part of the plan. Adopting a healthy lifestyle will certainly boost your chances of conceiving. While obesity in men is associated with decreased sperm count and quality, excessive weight may also be associated with misshapen sperm, which can interfere with the sperm’s ability to reach and penetrate the egg.
Stress doesn’t help either!
If you’re trying for a baby, do know that stress can lead to impotence and erectile dysfunction. It may even shut down the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis (the group of glands that play a critical role in developing and regulating your reproductive system) – all of which can interfere with fertility. Find ways to de-stress and relax if you have the intention of becoming a daddy!
Age is a factor but…
… but not as bad as it is for women! While women are constantly being warned about the difficulty of conceiving as they get older, it turns out that even though men can (and regularly do) father children well after crossing the senior citizen mark, male fertility does decline with age. According to Joseph A. Hill, MD, president and CEO of The Fertility Centers of New England, sperm production decreases in men after age 40. Still, unlike women, who undergo menopause, men may still be able to impregnate a woman well after that.
Pesticides kill more than just pests
Pesticide use is a factor that may affect male infertility. Exposure to environmental toxins, such as pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides can decrease sperm production and quality. Some of these environmental toxins have even been linked to testicular cancer. Long-term exposure to heavy metals such as lead and arsenic may also cause infertility.
Time To Start A Family!
Now that you’ve tackled the tricky issue of male infertility, it’s time to plan for that bundle of joy.
Clearblue Digital Ovulation Test provides you with a clear and simple way to test whether or not the woman is fertile at that point in time.
The Clearblue Digital Ovulation Test is an easy-to-use home ovulation test, which is over 99% accurate in detecting the LH surge and which provides an easier and more accurate reading in consumers’ hands than traditional line tests.