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.