Male infertility: myths and reality

Male infertility: myths and reality

Childlessness affects approximately 15–20% of married couples and up to 15% of men in the world. Despite free access to information, there is still a belief in society, especially among men, that it is mainly women who suffer from infertility. However, scientists have proven that 50% of cases of difficulties with conceiving a child are in a man.

Male infertility VS Female infertility

Every man at some stage in his life wants to become a father of a child and defines the inability to fertilize a woman as a personal failure. It is more difficult for him to accept such information, and he tends to blame other people for it. His self-esteem falls, apathy, alienation and even aggression towards relatives appear. According to the observations of medical clinics around the world, most often infertility is treated only in women. Men flatly refuse to admit that this is their problem. Men’s sexual problems, both in the media and in society, are less spoken about than women’s ones. Therefore, male victims feel isolated and ashamed. In accordance with the definition of the World Health Organization (WHO), signs of infertility in a couple are diagnosed after a woman is unable to become pregnant after a year of regular intercourse with an average frequency of 3-4 intercourse per week without the use of contraceptives. According to various sources, this happens in every 5–6th marriage in the world.

Studies by scientists who have studied male infertility, causes and cures show that over the past 10 years, the number of sperm with normal motility and structure has decreased significantly, and the number of sperm that cannot fertilize a female egg has increased. This is due to many factors, the most common of which are:

  1. systemic diseases:
  • cardiovascular disease;
  • diabetes;
  • thyroid disease;
  • liver disease;
  • hyperprolactinemia;
  • chronic nephritis;
  • inflammation of the prostate gland;
  • retrograde ejaculation;
  • hypospadias;
  1. testicular diseases:
  • genetic disorders;
  • testicular cancer;
  • varicose veins of the spermatic cord;
  • testicle hydrocele;
  • idiopathic hypothyroidism;
  • testicular damage due to viral diseases;
  • testicular injury;
  1. disorders in the development of sperm:
  • absence or abnormal sperm motility;
  • disturbances in the structure of the sperm;
  • decreased sperm count in semen
  • anatomical and structural abnormalities of spermatozoa that prevent them from entering the sperm;
  1. additional factors:
  • infections of the pelvic organs;
  • environment;
  • age over 40;
  • chronic stress;
  • overweight;
  • excessive alcohol consumption;
  • smoking;
  • drug abuse;
  • poor working conditions (surrounded by toxic chemicals).

How is infertility diagnosed in men?

The main element of the diagnosis of male infertility is semen analysis, which includes:

  • basic diagnostics, which determines the physical and chemical parameters of sperm: concentration, motility, morphology and viability of sperm;
  • MAR test for the presence of antibodies on the surface of spermatozoa, which can reduce their motility and viability, as well as impede the passage of sperm through cervical mucus, preventing fertilization;
  • SCD test a study of the structure of sperm chromatin to assess the degree of damage to sperm DNA. Damaged sperm DNA reduces the chances of fertilization. It also causes abnormalities in the early stages of embryo development and increases the risk of passing on genetic defects to the baby and miscarriage;
  • semen culture to detect bacteria and fungi in semen.

If necessary, the doctor may recommend further diagnostics, including:

  • physical examination by examining the penis, testicles, and scrotum. It is done to determine if the man has any anatomical abnormalities that can reduce fertility;
  • ultrasound helps to detect varicose veins of the spermatic cord,
  • hormonal tests;
  • genetic and immunological research.

3 most common myths about male infertility treatment

MYTH 1. Will I never have children due to deviations in sperm parameters?

Not with all deviations in the analysis of sperm, a man is prescribed to undergo a complex and long-term treatment of infertility.

General guidelines include avoiding alcohol, caffeine, smoking, regular physical activity, maintaining proper body weight, and a low-fat, high-protein diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, selenium and zinc, which are essential for proper sperm maturation. A sufficient amount of zinc in the diet helps to achieve sexual activity and fertility, providing the body with a sufficient amount of vitamin C, which improves the absorption of valuable compounds in the digestive tract and increases the viability and survival of sperm. Vitamin C also protects sperm DNA from free radical damage. Taking vitamin E helps to improve fertility in men.

MYTH 2. If I do not see obvious problems with my sex life, I do not need to go to a specialist?

The vast majority of diseases that cause male infertility are asymptomatic. In 20% of cases, it is impossible to accurately determine the cause of fertility problems and the degree of infertility. Then it is called "idiopathic." It is not caused by a specific disease or disorder. In contrast, the test results do not show abnormalities that could indicate problems with conceiving a child. In this case, specialists focus on solving the problem, and not on finding the cause. If idiopathic infertility lasts more than 2–3 years, it is recommended to use assisted reproductive technologies (insemination, in vitro).

MYTH 3. I started having erection problems. Does this mean that I will never be able to satisfy my partner again?

Erection or ejaculation problems are often temporary, resulting from stressful lifestyles, poor diet, alcohol or cigarette abuse, and lack of sleep.

Long-term neglect of erectile dysfunction can lead to serious consequences. If alarming symptoms appear, it is important to immediately consult a specialist - urologist-andrologist Alexander Ivanovich Manzhura.