Infertility in both men and women is widespread today and is increasing in India. It is estimated that the country has experienced 20 to 30% infertility in the last five years. Infertility is not an urban phenomenon, nor is it limited to women. Studies show that problems in men cause nearly 30% of all cases of infertility.
In India, however, male infertility is largely ignored, and women face significant social stigma due to the inability to have children. Therefore, it takes an hour to give equal attention to male infertility and to recognize the condition.
There are many misconceptions about infertility. One of the most common is that infertility is only a woman’s problem, but achieving pregnancy depends not only on the woman. Tango takes two, as they say. In an attempt to clear up that misconception, below are some facts about male infertility.
What is Infertility?
Infertility is usually defined as the inability to get pregnant after one year (or more) of unprotected sex. Because female fertility is known to decrease gradually with age, some doctors screen and treat women over the age of 35 after six months of unprotected sex. Women with infertility should consider making an appointment with a gynaecologist and endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in infertility treatment. Pregnancy is the result of a process that involves many steps. Pregnant:
- A woman’s body needs to release an egg from one of her ovaries.
- The male sperm must unite with the egg (fertilization).
- The fertilized egg must enter the uterus (uterus) through the fallopian tubes.
- The embryo must adhere to the insides of the uterus (implant).
Infertility can be the result due to a problem with one or more of the steps mentioned above.
Is infertility a female problem
No, infertility is not always a woman’s problem. Both men and women can cause infertility. Many couples struggle with infertility and seek help to conceive, but it is often seen as a woman’s disease. However, in about 35% of couples with infertility, the malefactor is identified with the female factor. In about 8% of couples with infertility, the malefactor is the only identifiable cause.
Nearly 9% of men between the ages 25 and 44 in India report that they or their partners have seen a doctor for advice, evaluation, or treatment for infertility during their lifetime.
Male fertility is a complex process. To get your partner pregnant, the following should happen:
- Healthy sperm: Initially, this involves the growth and formation of the male reproductive organs during puberty. At least one of your testicles must usually work, and your body must produce testosterone and other hormones to activate and maintain sperm production.
- Sperm has to be carried into the semen: Once sperm are produced in the testicles, thin tubes transport them until they mix with semen and are ejaculated out of the penis.
- There needs to be enough sperm in the semen: If the sperm count is low, it decreases the chance that one of your sperm will fertilize your partner’s egg. The number of sperm in each millilitre of semen is less than 15 million or less than 39 million per ejaculation.
- Sperm must be functional and able to move: If the movement, shape or function of your sperm is abnormal, the sperm may not be able to reach or penetrate your partner’s egg.
Various health problems and medical treatments can lead to male fertility problems:
- Varicocele: A varicocele is an inflammation of the vein that drains the testicles—the most common reversible cause of male infertility. Varicocele can cause a decrease in the quantity and quality of sperm. Although the exact reason that varicoceles cause infertility is unknown, this may be related to abnormal blood flow. Varicoceles lead to reduced sperm quantity and quality.
- Infection: Some infections can interfere with sperm production or sperm health or cause scarring that blocks the passage of sperm. These include inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis) or testis (orchitis) and some sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea or HIV. Although some infections can result in permanent testicular damage, most often, sperm can still be retrieved.
- Ejaculation problems: Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen enters the bladder during orgasm instead of leaving the tip of the penis. Some health conditions can cause retrograde ejaculation, including diabetes, spinal cord injury, medications, bladder, prostate, or urethral surgery.
- Antibodies that attack sperm: Anti-sperm antibodies are immune system cells that mistakenly identify sperm as harmful invaders and try to eliminate them.
- Tumours: Cancers and non-malignant tumours can directly affect the male reproductive organs through glands that release hormones related to reproduction (such as the pituitary) or glands of unknown origin. In some cases, surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy to treat tumours can affect male fertility.
- Undescended testicles: In some men, during fetal development, one or two testicles do not descend from the abdomen into the sac that usually contains the testicles (scrotum). Men with this disease are more likely to have reduced fertility.
- Hormonal imbalance: Infertility can be caused by testicular disease or abnormalities that affect other hormonal systems, including the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands. Low testosterone levels (hypogonadism in men) and other hormonal problems are Several possible potential causes.
- Defects in small tubes that carry sperm: Many tubes carry sperm. They can be blocked for many reasons, including accidental injuries caused by surgery, previous infections, trauma, or abnormal development, such as cystic fibrosis or similar genetic diseases.
Blockage can occur at any level, including within the testicle, tubes that drain the testicle, epididymis, vas deferens, near the ejaculatory ducts or in the urethra.
- Chromosome defects:- Genetic diseases, such as Klinefelter syndrome, where a man is born with two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome (instead of one X and one Y). This causes abnormal development of the male reproductive organs. Other genetic syndromes associated with infertility include cystic fibrosis and Kalman syndrome.
- Sexual intercourse problems: These may include problematic sexual behaviours (erectile dysfunction) to maintain a sufficient erection, premature ejaculation, pain during intercourse, anatomical abnormalities, such as urethral opening beneath the penis (hypospadias), or psychological problems that interfere with sex.
- Celiac disease: Celiac disease is a digestive system disease caused by sensitivity towards a protein called gluten. The condition may contribute to male infertility. Fertility may improve after stopping eating a gluten-free diet.
- Certain medications: Long-term use of anabolic steroids, cancer drugs (chemotherapy), some ulcer drugs, some arthritis drugs and certain other drugs can affect sperm production and reduce male fertility.
- Prior surgeries: Certain surgeries may prevent you from having sperm in your ejaculate, including vasectomy, scrotal or testicular surgeries, prostate surgeries, and extensive abdominal surgeries performed for testicular and rectal cancers, among others.
Overexposure to certain environmental factors such as heat, toxins, and chemicals can reduce sperm production or function. The specific reasons are:
- Industrial chemicals: Prolonged exposure to certain chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, organic solvents, and dyes can contribute to a low sperm count.
- Heavy metal exposure: Exposure to Lead or other heavy metals can also cause infertility.
- Radiation or x-rays: Radiation exposure can reduce sperm production, although it often returns to normal at some point. Sperm production can be permanently reduced with high doses of radiation.
- Testicles are too hot: High temperatures can affect sperm production and function. While the research is limited and inconclusive, frequent use of a sauna or hot tub can temporarily lower your sperm count.
Sitting for long periods, wearing tight clothing or working long hours in front of a laptop can also increase the temperature in the scrotum and slightly reduce sperm production. But the study isn’t finished yet.
Health, lifestyle and other reasons
Some other causes of male infertility include:
- Taking specific medication: Anabolic steroids, taken to stimulate muscle strength and growth, can cause the testicles to contract and reduce sperm production. Using cocaine or marijuana can temporarily decrease the amount and quality of your semen.
- Alcohol consumption: Alcohol consumption can lower testosterone levels, cause erectile dysfunction, and reduce sperm production. Liver disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to fertility problems.
- Smoke: Men who smoke may have lower sperm counts than non-smokers. Cigarette smoke can also affect male fertility.
- Weight: Obesity can affect fertility in several ways, including direct effects on the sperm itself, as well as hormonal changes that affect male fertility.
For many causes of male infertility, surgery and treatment can be reversed. However, as with any problem that causes infertility, this is not always the case. This is why it is essential to work with a Ziva infertility doctor’s fertility expert to understand the cause and then work to correct it to give you the best chance of conceiving.
It’s time to seek help.
If a couple has difficulty conceiving after a year of trying, it’s a good idea to see a fertility specialist. However, if the woman trying to conceive is more than 35 years old, seek help after six months. Assessing both men and women can rule out or diagnose many possible causes of infertility. In addition, physical assessments, laboratory tests, and more can be done to give you a better idea of your next best course of action.
Since female fertility is a significant concern, issues related to male fertility are often overlooked. However, the fact is that many couples around the world cannot get pregnant because of male infertility. Knowing the causes that cause male infertility can help couples deal with the problem and seek appropriate treatment.
Keep in mind that about 10% of all men in India trying to conceive suffer from infertility. You are not alone in your struggle. Thanks to modern technology, 90% of all infertile men have the potential to father their genetic child. There are treatments for the causes of infertility, lifestyle changes you can make to prevent infertility, and there are surgeries and procedures you can try. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you and your partner cannot conceive after one year of unprotected sex. Contact the Ziva infertility Clinic if you are one of the people suffering from getting pregnant +91-9392834024, +91-9100002737.