Dealing with fertility issues can be quite trying for both men and women. It’s important to realize that while infertility is frequently attributed to the female partner in the relationship, that is not always the case. Research indicates that a man is a contributing factor to a couple’s infertility issue in about 4 out of 10 cases, and is the sole cause of infertility about 20% of the time. Knowing this, couples who are actively trying to conceive and have had no success in a year’s time (six months if over 35 years of age) should seek the services of a professional fertility clinic to begin the male fertility testing process.
Basic Infertility Symptoms in Men
While there are few outward signs of infertility in men, there are some basic symptoms that should be addressed quickly. If a couple is actively trying to conceive and the male partner experiences any of the following issues, a consultation with a fertility clinic should be a top priority:
- Abrupt changes in sexual desire, especially if no other major life events can be counted as a reason for the shift in desire.
- Changes in hair growth – whether on the head or body. Hormonal changes can present as hair growth fluctuations in many men.
- Firm testicles that are undersized may be symptomatic of an infertility issue
- Painful swelling or lumps in the testicles, or any persistent, uncomfortable feeling in the area
- Apparent problems with ejaculating or erections
Major Causes of Infertility
About one in three men who are experiencing fertility issues will discover that they have varicoceles or abnormal formations of veins located above the testicles. These can normally be fixed with surgery. Approximately one-fourth of men experiencing infertility issues simply have low or abnormal sperm counts for no apparent reason. This condition is called idiopathic infertility. Although it’s usually difficult to identify causes of infertility, couples may become pregnant during the subsequent 12-month period with normal testing procedures and continued treatment from a qualified practitioner.
What to Expect When Visiting a Fertility Clinic
Determining the root cause of a man’s infertility is a specialized process that can take some time. After reaching out and scheduling the initial appointment, you’ll work with your fertility doctor to create a medical and reproductive history profile. When you first meet with your doctor, you’ll answer questions about any surgeries you’ve had or any medications you’re presently taking. Your doctor will also ask about your exercise routines, alcohol and drug use, and your sexual history. A full physical exam is also conducted to provide as much information as possible to create an accurate diagnosis.
An important part of working with a fertility specialist is being as honest as possible about your past and present health concerns, and any previous issues that may be contributing to infertility. Once the consultation is complete the real work begins – testing.
Types of Male Infertility Tests
Male fertility testing isn’t an overnight process that delivers an answer in hours. Rather, men should be prepared to commit an appropriate amount of time (weeks to months is the norm) to allow for the full range of testing to uncover the root cause of infertility. Here are some of the basic testing procedures that may be employed:
Though testosterone and several other hormones are responsible for sperm production, only 3% of men with fertility problems will point to hormones as the culprit. Many fertility experts feel that some hormone testing should be conducted, but the odds are that it won’t point to the true cause of infertility.
Anti-Sperm Antibody Test
Your doctor may conduct a test to search for any anti-sperm antibodies in your system. As it sounds, these antibodies actively work against the otherwise healthy sperm and attack them on their way to the egg. Fertilization is quite difficult if this antibody is present.
Sperm Count Test
While some men may have normal sperm counts in their testicles, low sperm levels may exist in the semen and that can be attributed to one of the several issues. First, some men suffer from retrograde ejaculation, in which the sperm ejaculate backward and end up in the bladder. Previous surgeries are often the culprit for this condition. Another possible reason is a genetic disorder in which the vas deferens, or the main “pipeline” that transports the sperm, is damaged or even missing entirely. Other obstructions can occur that block the normal movement of sperm, most of them easily identifiable by the fertility specialist.
For more information about male fertility testing and treatment, schedule a consultation today with the compassionate team at Red Rock Fertility Clinic at 702-749-4642.