The Struggle With Male Infertility
When a couple is struggling to conceive, feelings of isolation can make people feel like no one else is experiencing infertility. But a recent study found that one in six couples has trouble conceiving. More importantly, difficulty conceiving isn’t limited to female infertility. The same study drilled deeper into the figures and found that one in every three cases of infertility can be linked to male infertility. But what is male infertility? Are there any signs that indicate that an evaluation or appointment with a fertility specialist might be a good idea?
Male infertility explained
Infertility in both men and women is considered a disease of the reproductive system. But in a man, infertility usually centers around two main concerns: sperm disorders and physiological problems. Both concerns can directly impact the sperm’s ability to fertilize a woman’s egg and ultimately make the dream of pregnancy out of reach.
Sperm disorders demystified
Sperm disorders are a general term used to identify five common issues related to sperm quality. Often sperm disorders are inherited or developed through behavioral habits that can negatively impact a man’s fertility over time. For example, smoking, drinking, drug use, a hormonal imbalance, certain medical conditions, and even some prescription medications can impact a man’s sperm quality. The most common sperm problems include sperm that don’t fully grow, oddly-shaped sperm, sperm with poor mobility, a low sperm count, or even a complete absence of sperm in the semen.
Physiological issues that impact fertility
Physiological problems that can impact male fertility tend to focus on an inability to achieve or maintain an erection, potential blockage in a man’s genitals, and even irregular ejaculations that can prevent semen from moving through the reproductive tract properly. Keep in mind that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause inflammation that may block semen, and even previous surgeries can lead to scar tissue that can impede ejaculation.
Looking for the signs
So, how would a man know that infertility may be at play? Besides spending an extended period trying to conceive without success, there are other signs that can indicate that a man may be struggling with infertility. Symptoms to watch for include:
- Low sex drive or problems with erections and ejaculation
- Swelling, pain, or lumps in the testicles
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Abnormal breast growth
- An inability to smell
- A decrease in facial or body hair
- Lower sperm count
While male infertility can be a blow to the ego, the condition isn’t final and doesn’t mean that a man can never get a woman pregnant. Most men don’t associate many of the above symptoms with male infertility. So, the most important factor is to speak with a physician if a couple has been trying to conceive for a year without success. By being proactive, a man can work with a fertility specialist to determine a treatment plan that can correct any underlying problems and improve a couple’s chances of conceiving.