SPECIAL FOCUS ON THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MALE INFERTILITY
By Dr. Nidhi Jha
One in eight couples struggle with infertility, and in half those cases, male infertility plays a part. As couples work with us through the process of diagnosing and treating infertility, it's important to understand the role of male health.
Q. HOW COMMON IS MALE INFERTILITY?
Infertility affects both men and women in nearly equal measures Roughly 1/3 of infertility cases are related to the man and roughly 1/3 are related to the woman. The remaining 1/3 of infertility cases are related to both partners or their cause can't be identified.
Q. WHAT CAUSES MALE INFERTILITY?
Male fertility is a complex process. For pregnancy to happen, the following must occur:
Q. WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
The main sign of male infertility is the inability to conceive a child. Although most men with male infertility do not notice symptoms other than the inability to conceive a child, signs and symptoms associated with male infertility include:
Q. WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR?
See a doctor if you have been unable to conceive a child after a year of regular, unprotected intercourse or sooner if you have any of the following:
Q. DOES LIFESTYLE HAVE A ROLE IN MALE INFERTILITY?
Certain habits, such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake, poor sleep habits and poor diet can lead to fertility issues. A visit to the physician can help identify these factors and offer strategies for quitting smoking or improving your diet. Many popular supplements used by fitness enthusiasts can have negative effects on fertility. Research says these supplements—particularly pre-workout and testosterone boosters, but even branched-chain amino acids and others that are used to increase strength — can be laced with chemicals related to anabolic steroids that can harm users.
“Many of the products that are advertised as making your muscles big can atrophy your testicles.” It is recommended avoiding workout supplements and discussing any other vitamin supplements you are taking with your Doctor.
Q. HOW IS MALE INFERTILITY DIAGNOSED?
An initial evaluation will be conducted and will include a detailed history of the male partner. During this overview, a proper history of current and childhood medical conditions and past infertility should be given. It's also very important for the fertility doctor to be aware of environmental factors that may contribute to male infertility such as exposure to heat or chemicals as well as the use of certain drugs. A semen evaluation will be performed to test the amount of semen created, the number of sperm per ml of volume, percentage of live sperm and the shape of the sperm.
Q. CAN MALE INFERTILITY BE TREATED?
Yes, in many cases of male infertility, treatment can help couples conceive. For example, during IVF, infertile males may choose Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), a procedure performed when sperm can't penetrate the egg. This Fertility treatment offers great success for couples where the man is deemed infertile.
Q. WHAT IF THE MALE PARTNER HAS BEEN FERTILE IN THE PAST?
A history of male fertility is not a definitive indicator of current male fertility health. History of fertility should not exclude a male fertility evaluation when a couple is experiencing trouble conceiving.
Q. WHAT ARE THE PREVENTIVE MEASURES?
Many types of male infertility aren't preventable. However, you can avoid some known causes of male infertility. For example:
Q. HOW DOES SPERM DONATION WORK?
More often than not, IVF treatment will help couples successfully create embryos with their eggs and sperm. However, for men who aren't producing any sperm, sperm donation is another alternative to consider. Donor sperm can be used for IUI or IVF. In IUI donor sperm is directly inseminated inside the women's uterus after processing the semen. By using In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)techniques, eggs are obtained from the woman, fertilised by sperm from the donor, and the resulting embryos are placed int the woman's uterus.
Donor sperm can be arranged only from Govt. authorised sperm banks. Sperm donation by a known donor is not allowed in India according to ICMR guidelines.
Donor Sperm Health
Men who wish to donate their sperm are screened for common infectious diseases before donation. A quarantine period is used and donors provide blood for repeat testing for HIV (AIDS) and hepatitis before any sperm is released from quarantine
As the law currently stands, sperm donors are unable to trace offspring and vice versa. the current position of children born through donor sperm is that they have the same legal rights as naturally conceived offspring and the sperm recipients' names can be put on the birth certificate.