Around 13% of couples are unable to get pregnant when they want to have a baby. In over 1/3 of these cases, Male infertility is to blame. The most common forms of infertility in men affect sperm production and sperm delivery, including low sperm production, blockages, and abnormal sperm function. Being unable to conceive can be incredibly frustrating, but the good news is that there are plenty of treatment options available.
How the Male Reproductive System Works Normally
To understand the causes of and treatments for infertility, it’s first necessary to get a better idea of how the male reproduction system works under normal circumstances. In general terms, the male reproductive system is responsible for creating, storing, and transporting sperm, the cells that contain a man’s genetic material used to fertilize a woman’s eggs. These processes are controlled by male sex hormones, which are formed in the testicles.
When a man’s sperm leaves his testicles, these reproductive cells enter a tube called the epididymis. They are then transferred to the vas deferens immediately preceding ejaculation. Here, the sperm mixes with fluid from the seminal vesicles and prostate to form semen, which travels through the urethra to be expelled during ejaculation. This complex reproductive system only works when all the conditions, including genetics, hormone levels, and environmental factors are right.
Non-Surgical Infertility Treatments
Finding the right treatment requires accurately diagnosing the underlying problem. Once a doctor understands what is causing a patient’s infertility, he or she can make recommendations that may allow natural conception. Let’s take a look at some of the non-surgical fertility treatments available for common underlying conditions affecting the male reproductive system.
Treatments for Anejaculation
Anejaculation is a condition that causes men to be unable to produce semen. It can be caused by spinal cord injuries, surgeries, genetic abnormalities, and underlying health conditions like diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Pharmaceutical treatments are the first line of defense against anejaculation, but if drugs don’t work, men in Myrtle Beach, SC have two additional options. They can be placed under anesthesia and have sperm collected via a process known as rectal probe electroejaculation or get assistance with natural ejaculation via penile vibratory stimulation. In vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) are also good options for treating anejaculation.
Treatments for Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)
CAH is a rare condition that affects the enzymes required for natural hormone production. It can be treated using hormone replacement therapy.
Treatments for Genital Tract Infections
Genital tract infections can cause infertility if they lead to an excess of reactive oxygen species or severe inflammation. Severe infections can cause testicular shrinkage and block the epididymal ducts, in which case, antibiotics may be required. Since antibiotics can cause reduced sperm production, most men try non-steroidal anti-inflammatories before using antibiotics to treat genital tract infections while they are trying to conceive.
Treatments for Hyperprolactinemia
Hyperprolactinemia causes excess production of the hormone prolactin. It can be caused by either medication use or abnormal growth in the pituitary gland. When medications are to blame, doctors may be able to stop them temporarily or prescribe additional pharmaceuticals to balance patients’ prolactin levels. When abnormal pituitary gland growth is to blame, patients may need to be referred to neurosurgeons for specialized treatment.
Treatments for Hypogondatropic Hypogonadism
Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism is a condition in which the testicles do not produce sufficient sperm. It is caused by problems with the pituitary glands or the hypothalamus and can be either congenital or acquired, in which case it is often triggered by other underlying health problems like head trauma, steroid use, or pituitary tumors. Hormone therapy in the form of lowering prolactin levels and gonadotropin replacement therapy is often effective as a treatment for this rare disorder.
Treatments for Immunologic Infertility
Immunologic infertility is a rare condition in which immune system problems cause infertility. There has been much research into pharmaceutical interventions for immunologic infertility but they are rarely effective. IVF and ICSI are the preferred treatments for this abnormality.
Treatments for Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) Imbalances
ROS are small molecules found in semen. They help to prepare sperm for fertilization, but when found in excess, they can also harm the sperm. Natural antioxidants like vitamin E can help to balance ROS levels to prevent fertility issues.
Retrograde ejaculation can be caused by certain injuries, surgeries, medications, and underlying health conditions. It can usually be treated using pharmaceutical interventions, but if these are not effective, assisted reproductive techniques may be required.
Surgical Procedures for Infertility
Some conditions can’t be treated successfully without surgery. Men who want to conceive will need to discuss options with a specialist. Here are a few of the conditions that can be resolved with surgical interventions:
- swollen varicocele
- azoospermia due to blockages
- previous vasectomies
- epididymal blocks
- ejaculatory duct blockages
Treatments for Non-Specific Infertility
Sometimes even specialists can’t determine the exact cause of a patient’s infertility. When this is the case, assisted reproductive techniques may be required. These include not just IVF and ICSI, but also intrauterine insemination (IUI).
In some cases, these procedures require sperm retrieval. Sperm retrieval techniques include testicular sperm extractions (TESE), testicular fine needle aspiration (TFNA), percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA), and microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA). Most specialists won’t recommend assisted reproductive techniques until after they have ruled out other potential therapeutic treatments.
Infertility can be an incredibly frustrating problem, but modern science has provided plenty of opportunities for treatment. The first step couples having difficulty conceiving should take is to speak with a specialist to get an accurate diagnosis of the underlying problem causing male or female infertility. Atlantic Urology Clinics can help.
With nine locations in Myrtle Beach and the surrounding area, Atlantic Urology Clinics makes it easy for couples to get the help they need with starting a family. They offer everything from hormone therapy to surgical interventions, so no matter why men are having problems conceiving, they’ll have plenty of options to explore. Browse the website to learn more or call (843) 347–2450 to schedule a consultation.