The decision to have a child can be exciting and nerve-wracking. But for the approximately one in twenty men who have fertility issues, the decision to start a family is the easy part. And with one in one hundred men being functionally sterile, meaning there is zero sperm in their ejaculate, male infertility can add stress to a relationship and doubts about virility. If you or the man in your life are suffering from infertility, know there is hope. Here is what you need to know about male fertility issues.
How Male Fertility Works
The male reproductive system produces, stores and transports sperm from the testes into an ejaculation that helps to fertilize the egg to produce a child. The production cycle is controlled by hormones in the man’s body. Sperm and testosterone are produced in the testicles, which are located in the scrotum, right below the penis. When a man ejaculates, the sperm are transported by the millions from the testicles along pathways called the epididymis. Immediately prior to ejaculation the sperm move from the epididymis into a second set of pathways called the vas deferens; during ejaculation the sperm mix with fluid from the prostate and seminal vesicles to form the semen that travels via the urethra and out of the penis.
Causes of Male Infertility
This success of the male reproductive system is dependent on the alignment and quality of hormone levels, and whether environmental conditions are all aligned. There are a host of problems that can contribute to male infertility. Some specifically have to do with the sperm: they can be oddly shaped, unable to move the right way, not fully developed or produced in low numbers (or not at all). Obstructions that may develop over time or from infection may also cause infertility. Varicoceles – characterized by swollen veins in the penis that cause blood to flow back into the scrotum where it is too warm to make sperm – occurs in about one out of every six men and 40% of infertile men. Still other men may experience retrograde ejaculation, meaning the sperm go into the bladder instead of outside the penis – this occurs when nerves and muscles in the bladder fail to close during climax. Other men may fall victim to their immune systems attacking their own sperm, preventing them from functioning normally. Low hormone levels may prevent the production of sperm; likewise certain medical conditions, diseases and medications may affect sperm production and function.
Treatments for Male Fertility
If it has been a few months after trying to conceive and there are still no results, perhaps it is time to visit your urologist. Your urologist will conduct a health history and perform any number of diagnostic tests, which may include a semen analysis, MRI or ultrasound, hormone and/or genetic testing, and/or testicular biopsy. Depending on the results, he may proceed with treatments that could include visiting a specialist based an underlying medical condition such as diabetes or a spinal cord injury, or vitamin treatment. If the problem is obstruction, blockage or swollen veins, your urologist may discuss surgical options. If a couple chooses to have children after a vasectomy, they may consider a vasovasostomy to reverse the procedure.
Treating Male Infertility in Phoenix
Urologists are trained to deal with all issues affecting male fertility. Dr. Desiderio (Desi) Avila is a board-certified urologist who is committed to treating your urological issues – to include infertility – with great success. If you live in the greater Phoenix area and have been unsuccessful at fathering a child, contact Ironwood Urology as the issue may be quite simple to repair. Call Dr. Avila today at (480) 961-2323 or request an appointment online to help realize your dream of growing your family.