How Is Male Factor Infertility Treated?
Although infertility is frequently considered to be primarily a female issue, it’s estimated that up to 30% of cases are related to male infertility complications. These complications include issues such as:
Obstructions in the reproductive system
Varicoceles, which are swollen veins in the scrotum
Because there are many factors that can contribute to infertility in men, there is a wide range of treatments available to address the underlying causes.
In some cases, male factor infertility can be addressed using medication. For example, with hormonal imbalances, a physician may prescribe a medication such as clomiphene citrate to correct the issue. Another example is retrograde ejaculation, which is when semen enters the bladder instead of exiting through the penis. For this condition, a doctor sometimes prescribes a medication that will help keep the bladder neck muscle constricted during ejaculation.
One of the most common methods of dealing with male factor infertility is a simple procedure known as intrauterine insemination (IUI), which falls under the general category of artificial insemination. In IUI, semen is collected via masturbation and then injected directly into the uterus during ovulation so that the sperm is closer to the egg. Prior to injection, the semen sample is prepared via a process known as sperm washing, which separates the sperm from the seminal fluid and improves sperm concentration.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection
Some types of male factor infertility may call for a more precise form of insemination. These include:
Asthenospermia, a condition in which sperm has limited motility
Azoospermia, a condition in which sperm is completely absent in the ejaculate
Oligospermia, a condition characterized by low sperm count
Teratospermia, a condition in which sperm has abnormal morphology
When these conditions are present, the man may undergo a process known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection [ICSI]. In ICSI, the natural barriers of the body that can prevent pregnancy are circumnavigated by directly injecting a mature egg with a single sperm using a small needle. The sperm are retrieved through a surgical procedure called testicular sperm extraction, in which sperm cells are harvested directly from the testicles.
Male factor infertility sometimes needs to be treated with surgery. For example, men who have varicoceles may undergo either a microscopic or laparoscopic varicocelectomy in order to ligate the veins in the scrotum. Another example is a vasectomy reversal, which is done to reconstruct the vas deferens after it has been surgically cut through a vasectomy.
There are many treatment options available that can help men who are experiencing issues with their fertility. To learn more about male factor infertility, as well as treatment options, please contact the Fertility Center of California today.