When most people think of infertility, they usually think it’s a woman’s issue. That tends to be the prevailing notion, and all of the books, websites, blogs, and support groups targeted at women who are struggling with infertility support that theory. There are very few resources for men, however according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine the male partner is either the primary cause or a contributing cause of infertility in approximately 40% of infertile couples.
Male infertility often comes as a shock to those dealing with it, and it’s just as emotionally difficult for a man who has been diagnosed as it is for a woman. There are several causes, and if your guy is facing one of them there are many ways you can help him deal with it. The Fertility Experts of UNC Fertility in Raleigh, North Carolina talk about what causes male infertility and ways you and your partner can get through it together.
What is Male Infertility?
Male infertility can be caused by a number of issues. It’s important to make sure both you and your partner get evaluated if you’ve been trying to conceive for a year (or six months if you’re over 35) without success. Evaluation of the male partner generally includes a detailed history, physical exam, and semen analysis. Additional testing may include endocrine labs (blood draw), an ultrasound, or genetic testing. Common causes of male factor infertility include:
• Structural abnormalities which prevent the sperm/seminal fluid from getting where it needs to be.
• Sperm production disorders
• Non-obstructive azoospermia: Very little to no sperm is produced by the testicles.
• Obstructive azoospermia: The testicles produce sperm, but something obstructs it from being discharged.
• Immunologic disorders: Endocrine disorders or antisperm antibodies can make it difficult for sperm to penetrate the egg.
• Ejaculatory issues
If you and your partner are having trouble getting pregnant and would like to see a fertility specialist at UNC Fertility for an evaluation, please call 919-908-0000.
Treatments to Get Things on Track
Once the cause of male factor infertility has been determined, we’ll put together a personalized treatment plan to put you on the path to parenthood. There are a number of non-invasive procedures available to help with male infertility:
• Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (PESA): This technique is used to retrieve sperm if there’s a blockage. Small needles collect seminal fluid from the epididymis.
• Testicular Sperm Aspiration (TESA): In this procedure, sperm is collected directly from the testes using a small needle.
• Trans-rectal Ultrasound of the Prostate with Seminal Vesicle Aspiration: A commonly used technique for diagnosing obstructions, this test utilizes ultrasound to see if there is a blockage and, if so, pinpoint the location.
• Microscopic Varicocel Repair: One of the most frequently used techniques to treat male infertility; this procedure focuses on decreasing venous blood flow in the reproductive tract and improving testicular function by reducing scrotal temperature.
Connection is Key
Infertility is emotional – for women and men. They may not share their feelings in the same way many women do, but men struggle with their diagnosis and what it means for your family. Due to societal ideas about infertility, your man’s self-esteem may take a hit. He may see himself as a failure. He may feel guilty when he sees your anguish at not getting pregnant month after month. It’s a challenging, stressful situation for both of you and the best way to get through it is to support each other. Talk, sit quietly together, go for a walk. Do whatever you love to do to release stress and connect.
Your partner may also find it beneficial to seek out a qualified therapist trained in helping people deal with infertility. Call UNC Fertility at 919-908-0000 if you’d like help resources in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The first step to tackling and overcoming male factor infertility is being diagnosed and determining an individualized treatment plan. Make an appointment today to meet with one of the fertility experts at UNC Fertility. They’re dedicated to helping you realize your dream of having a baby. You can reach us at 919-908-0000.