When going through infertility, an individual may feel distressed and disheartened. As it’s a dream of every man to once father their own child, we can understand the sentiments. However, thanks to the medical science and progress made in the field of infertility it’s now not an impossible thing for men with fertility to have children. Yep, you heard it right! Want to know how? Read on and learn more.
To begin with, whenever an individual who suffers from infertility goes for treatment, they are asked to take a semen analysis.
Under this analysis the ejaculate is checked for semen’s and sperm’s quality as well as quantity. The volume of sperm, number of healthy sperms, their motility, form, number of sperm per milliliter of semen, along with presence or absence of white blood cells are evaluated1.
Taking a sperm analysis test may be highly recommended for someone experiencing infertility. You may wonder that for getting a semen analysis you’d have to step out and visit a clinic, right? Not anymore, you can now order an at-home self-collection test kit that will allow you to perform sperm analysis from the comfort of your home. Do you want to know how? The answer lies with LifeCell's SpermScore!
When you take this test, you will receive the results within 24 hours. The comprehensive report may include information on the potential risks to sperm health, if any. With which our experts will assist you by giving medical suggestions and treatment options for male infertility. These recommendations will be based on the results of your sperm analysis.
In the next part, we will go over some of the medical suggestions and treatment options that specialists may offer for male infertility.
1. Surgical Treatment And Corrections
Corrective surgeries are highly recommended in case someone has had vasectomy (surgical procedure to split and separate vas deferens for sterilization purposes) in the past or has an impaired varicocele (the vein that takes deoxygenated or poor oxygen blood away from the testicle)2,3.
If a patient has had a vasectomy, a surgery such as vasectomy reversal will help. In this surgery, the separated vas deferens (the tube that sends sperms towards urethra) is simply reconnected back to its functioning position4.
In some cases the patient may have blockage in their vas deferens due to some infection, injury or past vasectomy surgery. This blockage can be surgically removed by cutting the vas deferens and re-connecting them at the ends, leaving the blockage out of the path4.
Surgical Sperm Retrieval
Surgical sperm retrieval is highly effective when a patient has a vas deferens blockage or a birth condition in which their vas deferens is absent. This procedure is also preferred in the event the patient has gone through irreversible vasectomy5.
The surgical retrieval of sperm could be done in 2 ways5-
- PESA: It stands for Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration. It is the procedure in which the sperm is collected directly from the epididymis (where the sperm is stored) with the help of a very thin needle5.
- TESE: It stands for Testicular Extraction, it is also a surgical procedure for retrieval of sperm. But in this, the sperm is collected from the biopsy (extraction of tissue sample) of a testicle tissue5.
2. Physical Examination
The basic physical examination of the patient (who is experiencing infertility) includes a variety of tests -
General Physical Examination
Under physical examination the height, weight, BMI (Body Mass Index), muscle and fat distribution along with waist circumference of the patient are measured4. It is a crucial step in the initial evaluation of male infertility, especially in cases wherein the cause of infertility is unknown6.
In this, every part of the male genitalia (male reproductive system) is checked and the doctor examine following6-
- Epididymis (where the sperm is stored) and vas deferens are checked for cysts, their overall size, etc.
- Presence of varicocele (dilated veins inside the scrotum)
- Penis (male reprouctive/ sex organ) is checked for its overall anatomy, the curvature, etc.
- Testes (male reproductive gland that produces sperm and secretes hormones) are checked for their location, size, etc
Secondary Sex Characteristics
After the general physical health examination, other traits like secondary sex characteristics are also considered6. Under this, the gynecomastia (growth at chest of males due to imbalance of hormones), body proportions, and distribution of general hair along with pubic hair are checked6.
Digital Rectal Examination
An examination of the prostate (it is the gland that provides nourishing fluid for sperm and helps them to move) is also done by the doctor. Wherein the physician may look for the presence of nodules, soreness or pain at the prostate6.
3. Ultrasound or Ultrasonography
Ultrasound is mainly used for the imagining of the male genitalia, for identifying the cause of infertility caused by blockage. Other than this, the ultrasound scans can also be helpful in assisted reproduction where the steps like sperm aspiration and in-vitro fertilization are involved7.
Under this, ultrasound scans of the male reproductive system, including the scrotum, vas deferens, rectum, epididymis, seminal vesicles (glands that create fluid that turns into semen), and urethra (duct that transports pee from the bladder to the exterior of the body)7 are taken.
Because sperm count varies, a diagnosis based just on sperm count may be inadequate. As a result, additional testing, such as ultrasound scans, is carried out. Although ultrasound scans are not a treatment option for male infertility, they are useful in determining the root cause of reproductive problems8.
4. Antisperm Antibody Testing
Antisperm antibodies are cells that perceive sperm cells as invaders and attack or kill them. Antisperm antibody cells can exist in both males and females, affecting the conceiving process in many couples9,10.
In males, the antisperm antibody could lead to following complications11:
- Decreased sperm mobility
- Sperm agglutination (clumping of cell particles)
- Ability to penetrate through the cervical mucus membrane
- Ability to penetrate the egg’s outermost layer
- Affects sperm-egg interaction & initial embryonic development
The antisperm antibody test is a method that checks for the presence of antibodies9. Antisperm antibody testing checks for antibodies that fight sperm in the blood or sperm. In this test, a sperm sample is taken and mixed with a chemical that only binds to affected sperm. If sperms are binded with the chemical, the presence of an antisperm antibody is detected10.
According to the WHO, there are around 186 million people and 48 million couples worldwide who are infertile11. In most cases, a person is unaware of their reproductive health until they decide to start a family. Therefore, it is not uncommon for couples to take longer than expected to conceive. Taking a simple SpermScore test- which checks 11 sperm parameters and 14 sperm conditions can help in determining the cause for a possible reproductive problem.
If any of the above-mentioned tests are recommended to you by fertility experts, you should consider taking them. Because each test brings you closer to the way forward!