Male Fertility

Male fertility testing

It’s important to know that 30% of couples we assist face challenges related to male factor infertility, often stemming from sperm issues. For this reason, it’s common for us to do a sperm test as part of our standard initial assessment. 

Here we examine the most common male infertility issues and see what male fertility testing can tell us about sperm health. 

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Causes of Male Fertility Issues

Low Sperm Count (Oligospermia):

A low sperm count can be caused by lots of different things including hormonal problems, varicoceles (enlarged veins within the scrotum), certain infections resulting in temporary or permanent testicular damage, medications, chronic health conditions and using steroids from a gym. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, substance abuse, and obesity also play a role. Some genetic conditions also lead to a reduction in sperm production (for example Klinefelter’s syndrome). However, it is very common for there to be no particular cause (idiopathic).

“With fertility issues, there can be an assumption that because it’s the woman trying for pregnancy, it must be her… But there could be a male fertility problem.”
-Dr Erin Fuller

Poor Sperm Motility (Asthenospermia)

Poor swimming or reduced rapid movement can contribute to male infertility. Causes include structural abnormalities in the sperm tails, hormonal imbalances, antisperm antibodies (an immune reaction to the sperm) and a varicocele. Just like with low sperm counts often we don’t find a treatable cause. 

Abnormal Sperm Morphology (Teratospermia):

This is where the sperm heads, midpiece or tail are abnormally shaped. These sperm are not able to fertiltise an egg naturally. Genetic abnormalities, environmental exposures to toxins and radiation, and the detrimental effects of specific medications can all contribute.

Male Fertility Testing

Are there any other tests to assess male infertility?

While a semen analysis is often the primary fertility test for men, in certain cases we may suggest further male fertility assessments, such as hormone levels, sperm DNA damage levels, chromosome checks, Y chromosome microdeletion testing and scrotal ultrasounds.

How can we treat male factor infertility?

Sometimes we will recommend hormonal treatments & vitamins to try & improve sperm production. Hormonal treatments can include anastrozole, FSH injections & Ovidrel injections. Being healthy & taking sperm boosting vitamins is also recommended. Lots of men with sperm issues become fathers through intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection techniques ( a form of IVF).