The inability to conceive a child can be stressful and at the same time frustrating. This may cause misunderstandings and may lead to divorce or separation among couples. Male infertility refers to the inability of male to cause pregnancy in a fertile female. A survey commissioned by pharmaceutical group Merck Serono and conducted by Synovate in 100 households in the Philippines revealed that 1 in 10 Filipino couples are facing the challenge of conceiving a child. According to Dr. Marc Anthony Ancheta, a consultant at the Medical City and section chief of Reproductive Medicine of the Infertility and Gynecologic Endoscopy, some 35 to 40 % of a couple’s inability to conceive a child are due to male factors, including sperm problems.
To conceive a child, a man's sperm must combine with a woman's mature egg. The male reproductive system makes, stores, and delivers sperm to the female reproductive tract during sexual intercourse. The most common issues that lead to infertility in men are problems that affect how the testicles work. Damage to the reproductive system can cause low or no sperm. About 4 out of every 10 men with total lack of sperm (azoospermia) have a blockage within the tubes the sperm travel through. Other problems may also include hormonal imbalances.
The main sign of male infertility is the inability to conceive a child. In some cases, an underlying problem such as an inherited disorder, hormonal imbalance, and dilated veins around the testicle or a condition that blocks the passage of sperm causes signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms you may notice include problems with sexual function, pain, swelling or a lump in the testicle area, recurrent respiratory infections, inability to smell, abnormal breast growth (gynecomastia), decreased facial or body hair or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality, and a lower than normal sperm count (fewer than 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen or a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculate).
The main causes of male infertility include sperm disorders, varicoceles, retrograde ejaculation, immunologic Infertility, obstruction, hormonal imbalance such as low testosterone production, and medication. A varicocele is the most common reversible cause of male infertility. They're found in 16 out of 100 of all men. They are more common in infertile men (40 out of 100). It is a swelling of the veins around the testicle. Varicocele may also be related to abnormal blood flow and can lead to reduced sperm quantity and quality.
Lifestyle choices can also contribute to infertility among men. Smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking certain medications can lower sperm numbers. Other causes of low sperm numbers include long-term sickness (such as kidney failure), childhood infections such as mumps, and chromosome or hormone problems such as low testosterone. Living a healthy life can prevent infertility among males. Aside from smoking and consumption of alcohol, infertility can be prevented by avoiding sexually transmitted infections, heat stress from tight fitting underwear, and avoiding taking anabolic steroids for bodybuilding or sporting purposes.
Treatments for male infertility may be based on the underlying cause of the problem. The treatments have 3 categories: Non-surgical therapy, Surgical Therapy for Male Infertility, and Treatment for Unknown Causes of Male Infertility. Treatments include surgery to correct or repair anatomic abnormalities or damage to reproductive organs, use of medical procedures to deliver sperm to the woman, fertilization of the egg in a laboratory, and using a third party for donating sperm or eggs and/or carrying a pregnancy. Medication can treat some issues that affect male fertility, including hormone imbalances and erectile dysfunction. Surgery can be effective for repairing blockages in the tubes that transport sperm. Surgery can also be used for repair of varicocele. Assistive reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization, can be effective if other treatments do not restore fertility.
With these, men must be mindful to comply with the 10th Kumainment which says “Maging aktibo. Iwasan ang alak; huwag manigarilyo.”
-PNC-ZDN Rowence Zorilla
1. Male Infertility
2. What is Male Infertility?
3. 1 of 10 Filipino couples have infertility problems-survey, August 24, 2013
4. Male infertility