MALE INFERTILITY

Creating a baby is no small feat. Many conditions, both in the woman and the man, have to be just right for pregnancy to occur. According to the Mayo Clinic, (www.mayoclinic.org), up to 15 percent of couples are infertile. They have not conceived a child even though they have had frequent, unprotected sexual intercourse for a year or longer. In up to half of these couples, male infertility is a significant factor.

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Creating a baby is no small feat. Many conditions, both in the woman and the man, have to be just right for pregnancy to occur. According to the Mayo Clinic, (www.mayoclinic.org), up to 15 percent of couples are infertile. They have not conceived a child even though they have had frequent, unprotected sexual intercourse for a year or longer. In up to half of these couples, male infertility is a significant factor.


Not only does a man need to produce healthy, mobile sperm from properly functioning testicles, his body must also be able to create testosterone and other hormones that help with sperm production. If his sperm count is low – fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen – impregnating a woman is virtually impossible. Sperm that has difficulty with motility (movement) or is abnormal may not be able to reach or penetrate an egg in order to fertilize it.


There are a number of causes of male infertility. Sometimes it is due to medical issues. Sometimes it has to do with health issues. Sometimes it is the result of lifestyle choices. A medical issue can be a varicocele, a swelling in the veins that drain the testicles that results in a reduction of sperm quality. The tubes that carry sperm may be blocked because of injury or infection. If a man contracts mumps in puberty, his fertility may be impacted. Different health conditions such as diabetes can cause retrograde ejaculation, which happens when semen

backs into the bladder during orgasm instead of exiting from the penis. Surgery, radiation or chemotherapy often affect male fertility. Lifestyle choices that can hinder fertility include smoking, illicit drug use and drinking alcohol. Being overweight is another factor in male infertility. Some medications, such as anabolic steroids, may impede fertility, and so can exposure to radiation and certain toxins and chemicals, such as pesticides, herbicides and lead. Some men are azoospermic – there is no sperm at all in their ejaculate.


To boost sperm production and mobility, doctors suggest:


MALE INFERTILITY


In some cases, if infertility is due to high or low levels of certain hormones, your doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy to enhance hormone balance. After a year of trying to achieve a pregnancy with no results, you and your partner should talk to your physician to discuss possible causes, treatments and assisted reproductive technology options such as in vitro fertilization.

DR. TODD MARTIN

Todd Martin graduated from Northern Kentucky University in 1990 and completed his master’s degree in 1999, receiving honors in both programs. He is board certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner and has worked in emergency medicine and family practice. Todd has lived in Lexington with his wife, Lori, since 2000 and is an avid fly fisherman and outdoor enthusiast. He joined Family Practice Associates of Lexington in 2013. He believes in treating not just the disease but the patient as a complete human being.

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