In general, most couples focus on planning their family and preventing pregnancy. Few of them stop to think that they may have a hard time conceiving, yet the problem is more common than you might realize. It turns out that 15-30% of all couples face infertility issues.
The reason for infertility is due to male-factor infertility, female infertility, or both. In about a third of cases, the problem is with male infertility. As an expert in male and female infertility, Fangyin Meng, MD, PhD, can identify the problem at her practice in Newport Beach, California, and determine the best treatment option to help you have a baby.
Sperm disorders top the list
When male infertility is identified, 25-40% of the time the problem is a sperm disorder. That’s why a semen analysis is one of the first diagnostic procedures done when you have an infertility evaluation.
Sperm disorders includes several possible problems, including the following:
Low sperm count
A low sperm count can be caused by a genetic condition or health problem. For example, diabetes and chronic kidney disease can impact sperm production. Sometimes, an infection is to blame, such as mumps, prostatitis, or epididymitis.
Another common source of a low sperm count is a condition called varicoceles. Varicoceles are enlarged veins in the scrotum that limit blood drainage. As a result, the temperature increases, making it too warm to produce sperm.
Furthermore, smoking, drinking alcohol, taking certain medications, or having hormone problems or nutritional deficiencies can also lower your sperm count.
Lack of sperm
If you don’t have any sperm in your ejaculate, there’s a good chance you have a blockage in the tubes that carry sperm out of your testicles. A birth defect or infection could also result in a blockage.
Abnormal sperm development
Sometimes, the sperm don’t fully mature. They can also lack motility — which is the ability to move — or have an abnormal shape. Furthermore, some sperm can have a large, small, or tapered head, or a misshaped tail. All of these changes can make it impossible for sperm to penetrate and fertilize an egg.
Age factors into male infertility
Age is a significant concern in female infertility. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, and they lose multiple eggs every month. After age 30, their chances of getting pregnant slowly decline, and after age 40, their ability to conceive dramatically drops every month.
Age isn’t such a serious problem for men, but it is an important factor. Men over age 40 are 30% less likely to get their partner pregnant compared to men younger than age 30. As you age, your fertility may be affected by DNA mutations, medical conditions, or a decrease in semen quality.
Other causes of male infertility
Though less common, other conditions responsible for male infertility include:
Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen goes backwards and into the bladder instead of out of the penis. This problem develops when the bladder doesn’t close during an orgasm.
In some cases, your immune system can make antibodies that attack your sperm and affect their motility. Among other reasons, this can occur if an injury, infection, or surgery triggers antibody production.
In many cases, we can treat the underlying cause with medications or surgery. If that’s not possible, we can consider assisted reproductive techniques, such as intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
If you’ve tried to get your partner pregnant for 6-12 months without success, Dr. Meng can get to the bottom of the issue and help your dreams come to fruition. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Fangyin Meng, MD, PhD, today.