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A Father's Day Review of Male Factor Infertility

a blog by Kim Griffiths, June 16, 2013

Often the focus of infertility and fertility treatment falls on the woman. However, as much as 50% of infertility is attributable to male factors. This Father’s Day, boost your male factor infertility IQ to take steps in the direction of fatherhood.

Male factor infertility can be the result of poor sperm quality or quantity; sperm count, sperm morphology, and sperm motility can be impacted by genetics and the environment. Conditions like varicocele or swollen veins within the testes, genetic disorders, cancer, sexually transmitted infections, previous vasectomy, or testicular injury can impact sperm production. Similarly poor diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, recreational drug use, exposure to heat, intense exercise, and restrictive clothing can reduce male fertility.

While male fertility does not suffer as drastic a decrease with age as female fertility does, sperm can undergo significant DNA damage with age which increases the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo and chance of miscarriage.

Despite its prevalence, male factor infertility is highly treatable. Some men may be instructed to take Clomid or fertility boosting supplements to regulate testosterone and sperm production. For others, intrauterine insemination (IUI) which involves “washing” and selecting the healthiest sperm, or in vitro fertilization (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can address sperm issues. Surgical procedures including sperm aspiration allow urologists and fertility doctors to retrieve viable sperm to fertilize eggs in an IVF cycle if needed.

If you have concerns about male factor infertility, the first step to receiving a diagnosis and treatment is a semen analysis. This test is non-invasive and requires a semen sample collection which can then be analyzed to determine if a man’s sperm meets normal parameters. Criteria set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO) serve as a reference point for determining male fertility.

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