Infertility ceased to be purely a female problem long ago. After several years of failed attempts to conceive a child, men are more and more often surprised to learn that they themselves are the cause of infertility in their family.
Erection and Conceptions Are Different Things
For men, it can be a shock because their sexual performance is never questioned; their sperm is released continuously and does not have any noteworthy peculiarities. Male sexual power is directly associated with the ability to conceive – but this is not quite true because erection, ejaculation and fertility are not the same thing.
What Is Azoospermia?
One of the problems of male infertility can be azoospermia, when there are no sperm cells in men’s semen that are capable of fertilizing an egg.
Azoospermia can be diagnosed only by an urologist or reproductologist after the test of semen. This is a special analysis characterized by studying sperm under the microscope in order to find and count the number of sperm cells, describing their qualitative characteristics.
Azoospermia does not influence the performance of the penis, and erection during a sexual intercourse remains the same and ends with ejaculation. However, this semen does not allow conceiving a baby. One should distinguish this disease from another, more rare disease called aspermia. The men, suffering from this disease, do not have any sperm at all, so there is no ejaculation.
What Causes Male Infertility?
This is the first question that men usually address to their doctor, asking where infertility stems from. There are a lot of reasons for this disorder. All the causes of this condition can be divided into three groups:
- diseases of other organs of the body,
- violations in the testicles themselves,
- and problems with excretory ducts.
The first group includes such issues as:
- diseases of the hypothalamus of the brain, which is responsible for hormone production, including sexual hormones;
- diseases of the pituitary that is immediately controlled by the hypothalamus: a tumor, a hemorrhage, and toxic effects on it (alcohol and drugs).
The second group of causes includes all the problems associated with the violation of the structure and operation of the testicle:
- chromosomal abnormalities or genetic problems
- absence of one or both testicles (congenital disorder or amputation)
- breach in the structure of the seminiferous tubules, congenital or acquired as a result of infections (orchitis or genital infections),
- inflammation of the testicles
- exposure to radiation,
- effects of alcohol and drugs, nicotine in particular,
- testicular trauma,
- decreased synthesis of male sex hormones
- undescended testicle (cryptorchidism).
The third group of causes includes the development of azoospermia due to the problems with delivery of sperm into the semen and healthy testicles. This is the result of:
- congenital anomalies of the seminiferous canals,
- hereditary metabolic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis,
- chlamydia, gonorrhea or tuberculosis infection,
- diabetes mellitus,
- resection of the prostate,
- cast of semen into the bladder in case of spinal cord injuries and for other reasons.
Sometimes, several reasons from different groups can affect men’s health at the same time, so men need a detailed examination to be sure they can be cured and to decide on treatment options or rely on the methods of assisted reproductive medicine (in other words, in vitro fertilization).
How to Detect Azoospermia?
First of all, single spontaneous study of ejaculate does not allow making any diagnosis. The doctor explains to the man the ways of preparing for the study and requests him to repeat the analysis 2-3 times.
Getting Ready for a Semen Analysis
First of all, one should not take hot baths, steam baths and a sauna (sperm cells do not like the heat and die) 5-7 days before the analysis. Men should abstain from sexual intercourse during 3-4 days before the date of the analysis to make sure that the results of the analysis will be most reliable.
When the result is questionable, the sample of ejaculate will be tested in centrifuge to detect precursors of sperm, a special kind of cells. If the semen samples have at least some cells, the diagnosis will not be confirmed.
How to Treat Male Infertility?
Along with the analysis, the physician will examine the genitals and the testicles – whether they do not contain any seals, swelling, or atrophy. All of this will help in determining the cause of the disease and finding the way to cure it.
If the problem is in the ducts, a surgery may be offered to correct and expand the ducts, if the disorder is due to the inflammation of testicles or a genital infection, curing these problems will be enough.
If the problem is in the testis, a surgery for obtaining biopsy will be needed. This will allow the doctor to determine the man’s fertility and allocate at least some sperm for artificial insemination in vitro.
If the sperm cells are not found even in the testis, the only way out may be fertilization with a donor’s sperm. Fortunately, this happens rarely.
In the majority of cases, temporary azoospermia is diagnosed against the background of an illness or stress, which may lead to the imbalance of male sex hormones. Men are also prone to stress and diseases and their hormones fluctuate.
One should remember that active treatment may help your man to conceive a desired heir soon!