Male factor Infertility – Causes and Treatment

Male factor Infertility – Causes and Treatment

 

How common is male factor infertility and what proportion of infertility in the couple is attributable to the male?

Of all infertility cases, approximately 40–50% is due to “male factor” infertility and as many as 2% of all men will exhibit suboptimal sperm parameters.

The rates of infertility in less industrialised nations are markedly higher and infectious diseases are responsible for a greater proportion of infertility.

The fertility rate in men younger than age 30 years has also decreased worldwide by 15%.

Male infertility

Male infertility

Is it necessary for all infertile men to undergo a thorough evaluation?

 If you are facing difficulty in conceiving then semen analysis should be done at the earliest.

Male infertility is commonly due to deficiencies in the semen, and semen quality is used as a surrogate measure of male fecundity.

Males with sperm parameters below the WHO normal values are considered to have male factor infertility.

The most significant of these are low sperm concentration (oligospermia), poor sperm motility (asthenospermia), and abnormal sperm morphology (teratospermia).

Semen analysis remains the single most useful and fundamental investigation with a sensitivity of 89.6%, that it is able to detect 9 out of 10 men with a genuine problem of male infertility.

 

What is the clinical value of traditional semen parameters?

Males with sperm parameters below the WHO normal values are considered to have male factor infertility.

The most significant of these are low sperm concentration (oligospermia), poor sperm motility (asthenospermia), and abnormal sperm morphology (teratospermia).

What key male lifestyle factors impact on fertility (focusing on obesity, heat and tobacco smoking)?

Cigarette smoke is a common somatic cell carcinogen and mutagen, and may adversely affect male reproduction factors.

Obesity is also linked to subfertility due to alteration in the hormone environment. Constant exposure to lead for instance, without safety measures, predisposes such individuals to low fertility.

Men who are exposed to high temperature at their workplace – welders, dyers, blast furnace workers and those employed in cement and steel factories – are more prone to infertility. A 1° elevation in testicular temperature leads to 14% depression of spermatogenesis.

Do supplementary oral antioxidants or herbal therapies significantly influence fertility outcomes for infertile men?

 Oxidative stress in the seminal fluid causes damage of the sperm plasma membrane and loss of its DNA integrity. Normally, a balance exists between concentrations of reactive oxygen species and antioxidant scavenging systems. If oxidative damage exceeds natural scavenging capacity then it affects sperm parameters. High dosage of vitamin C & E may rescue from such damage and increase fertility in male factor infertility.

 

What are the evidence-based criteria for genetic screening of infertile men?

Genetic testing is required in all severely oligospermic and non-obstructive azoospermic men. Such men demonstrate small testes and increased FSH. Chromosome structural and numeric abnormalities, YCMD, and other genetic mutations have been implicated in male subfertility. These men may benefit from genetic testing.

How does a history of neoplasia and related treatments in the male impact on reproductive health and fertility options?

Cancer, or post cancer treatments, can interfere with male factor fertility and reduce the ability to have children. Different types of treatments can have different effects.

Higher doses of cancer drugs are more likely to cause permanent fertility changes. The combinations of drugs can have greater effects. The risks of permanent infertility are even higher when males are treated with both chemo and radiation therapy.

 

What is the impact of varicocele on male fertility and does correction of varicocele improve semen parameters and/or fertility?

Varicocele is among the most common causes of male infertility. Varicocele affects fertility and sperm quality in some, but not in all men. The adverse effect of varicocele on sperm parameters may be due to increased testicular temperature, increased pressure, or reduced blood flow.

Male Fertility

Male Fertility

 

 

Effectiveness of varicocelectomy is however not proved and hence not practiced in many infertility setup.

How is ICSI treatment different from IVF?

How is ICSI treatment different from IVF?

What is intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)?

ICSI treatment is an option for conceiving with male infertility. It is an advanced fertility treatment which gives best success in the  hands of experts.

In human being formation of an embryo from a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm is a very complex phenomenon. The sperm of a man is a moving cell inside the body and it must reach to the egg at appropriate time to fertilize it as the released egg from ovary can survive for only 24 hours. At times this process doesn’t happen due to any of following problems in the man

  1. Sperm quantity may be too low – oligospermia
  2. Azoospermia- No sperms are found
  3. Defects in sperm movement – Asthenospermia
  4. Sperm cannot penetrate the egg due to a thick covering – thick zona

Before a man’s sperm can fertilize a woman’s egg, the head of the sperm must attach to the zona of the egg. Once attached, the sperm penetrates through the outer layer to the inside of the egg (cytoplasm), where fertilization takes place.

Sometimes the sperm cannot penetrate the outer layer, for a variety of reasons. The egg’s outer layer may be thick or hard to penetrate or the sperm may be unable to swim. In these cases, a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can be done to fertilize the egg inside the labaoratory. During ICSI, a single sperm is injected directly into the cytoplasm the egg.

 

How ICSI is different from IVF?

 

There are two ways that an egg may be fertilized in the laboratory: IVF and ICSI. In traditional IVF, 50,000 or more swimming sperm are placed next to the egg in a laboratory dish. Fertilization occurs spontaneously when one of the sperm enters into the cytoplasm of the egg. In the ICSI process, a tiny needle, called a micropipette, is used to inject a single sperm into the center of the egg. Fertilization achieved through ICSI can be up to 80-90% whereas through IVF it is aound 50 -60 %. With either traditional IVF or ICSI, once fertilization occurs, the fertilized egg (now called an embryo) grows in a laboratory for 2 to 5 days before it is transferred to the woman’s uterus (womb).

 

Why ICSI is needed?

 

ICSI helps to overcome fertility problems, such as:

  • The male partner produces too few sperm to do artificial insemination (intrauterine insemination [IUI]) or IVF.
  • The sperm may not move in a normal fashion, hence cannot reach up to the egg in time.
  • The sperm may have trouble attaching to the egg , Intra cytoplasmic sperm injection overcomes this.
  • Azoospermia due to a blockage in the male reproductive tract may keep sperm from getting out. In these couples the sperms are obtained directly from Testes through a minor procedure like PESA or TESE. ICSI helps these couples to achieve a pregnancy even though no sperms are found in semen analysis.
  • At times, traditional IVF fails to create embryos in some patients. ICSI can achieve fertilization in such patients regardless of the condition of the sperm.
  • ICSI is used along with IVM (In vitro maturation of eggs).
  • ICSI is necessary where frozen eggs are used for fertilization.

 

Does ICSI work for all?

 

ICSI fertilizes up to 80% of eggs. But certain issues may occur during or after the ICSI process:

  • Some or all of the eggs may be damaged. Hence it is advisable to take help of an expert embryology department.
  • The egg might not grow into an embryo even after it is injected with sperm. This can happen due to any inherent problem in any one of the couple.
  • The embryo may stop growing after fertilization due to several reasons.

 

Once fertilization takes place, a couple’s chance of achieving pregnancy is same for IVF and ICSI. Chances of Pregnancy in humans is up to 30-40 % even with very good embryos. This is due to the low implantation capacity of human uterus.

ICSI treatment

ICSI treatment

Can ICSI affect a baby’s development?

 

If a woman gets pregnant naturally, there is a 1.5% to 3% chance that the baby will have a major birth defect. The chance of birth defects associated with ICSI is similar to IVF, but slightly higher than in natural conception.

The slightly higher risk of birth defects may actually be due to the infertility and not the treatments used to overcome the infertility.

Certain conditions have been associated with the use of ICSI, such as Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, Angelman syndrome, hypospadias, or sex chromosome abnormalities. They are thought to occur in far less than 1% of children conceived using this technique.

 

Some of the problems that cause infertility may be genetic. For example, male children conceived with the use of ICSI may have the same infertility issues as their fathers. Couple should go through a counselling process at a standard ICSI center with the help of Infertility specialists and embryologists.