Many factors can contribute to male infertility, including low sperm production, blockages in the sperm conducting system, antibodies against sperm, injury to the testes, hormonal problems, poor descent of the testes, and varicocele. Initial evaluation of the male involves a thorough history followed by laboratory tests, including a comprehensive semen analysis (to determine the number of sperm, their shapes, and ability to move) and hormonal evaluation.
Male Infertility Treatments
There are over three million infertile couples in the United States. Approximately 40 percent of infertility cases are the result of a male factor, including many that can be treated effectively. The treatment for male factor infertility is simply to help the sperm reach and fertilize the egg. If a lower number of available sperm is the problem, we can decrease the distance they must swim. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) places a sperm sample half-way up the female reproductive tract.
In the early 1990s, techniques were created to help men with very low sperm count. In 1992, a revolutionary technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) was first used to increase pregnancy chances. The technique uses micromanipulation so that a single sperm can be injected into a single egg to help with fertilization. Thus, if a man produces any sperm, he is capable of becoming a genetic father.