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Are you wondering about male infertility?

Male Factor Infertility
Male factor infertility accounts for approximately 50% of all problems with infertility. Many couples try for many months and even years without realizing how much of a factor male infertility might be in their inability to conceive. Male pride, the often-held view that infertility is a "woman's problem" and the fact that infertility is rarely a subject of conversation in male groups all contribute. Here are some things you should consider if you have been having difficulty conceiving but have been unable to account for a cause.

Prevention
The best way to avoid problems with male infertility is to do your best to prevent it. Here are some of the known causes:
" Lifestyle issues such as use of illicit drugs, heavy alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking,
" medications and excessive heat around the testicles
" Medical treatments such as chemotherapy for cancer
" Timing - it's vital that intercourse is regular and frequent (every 24-48 hours) around the time the female partner ovulates.
" Lack of vitamins - there is some scientific evidence that vitamins C and E, zinc and carnitine when taken is appropriate doses, can enhance sperm quality
" Occupational exposure to toxins

Testing
A single visit to the urologist can determine whether a man's sperm is of good quality. Factors such as the volume of sperm in the semen and its thickness, the proportion of sperm that are active ("motility"), sperm size and shape ("morphology") affect the ability of sperm to do its job. Though the way the sperm is collected is pretty consistent for all tests (sperm should be tested very rapidly after ejaculation), there are many different tests that can be performed, ranging from a doctor conducting a scan through a microscope to sophisticated computer analysis. They all lead to a single goal - to find out if there enough, good quality male sperm to find and fertilize the egg.

One particularly reliable test is what is known as "the hamster test" to determine whether human male sperm can penetrate specially prepared hamster eggs. The results of "the hamster test" give particular guidance on what type of treatment the couple should undergo to enable conception. In some cases blood testing is done to confirm levels of some critical hormones such as Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Luteinizing Hormone (LH), testosterone, estradiol and prolactin.

Treatment
The most common form of treatment is drug therapy - various drugs are used to enhance sperm volume and quality. Drugs used include Clomiphene, Pergonal, Humegon, Parlodel and various hormone treatments. The most common drugs are taken orally so injections can be avoided. Where excessive heat is a problem there are medical devices that can be worn to correct the condition.

Microsurgery is used to eliminate blockages in the male reproductive system and, in some cases, to retrieve the sperm if it can't be ejaculated. There are several methods of artificial insemination to help overcome situations where the sperm is not reaching the egg for some reason.

Working through Infertility
In the end, whether infertility is caused by male factor, a female infertility issue or is unexplained (as over 10% of cases are), the male partner can handle infertility and support his partner better if he is well informed.

For more information, order the following Fact Sheets from RESOLVE National:

#36.
Husband Insemination (including IUI)
#38.
Male Perspective, Collection on
#39.
Male Infertility - What's New?
#40.
Microsurgery, Vas Blockage/Vasectomy Reversal
#41.
Semen Analysis
#42.
Antisperm Antibodies and Infertility
#43.
Varicocele: Surgical and Medical Treatment
#43a.
Donor Insemination: Medical and Emotional Aspects
#47
Overview of the Infertility Work-up and the Tests Used

Paper discussing male infertility, authored by Douglas A Schow, MD., a Minnesota doctor who
specializes in male infertility.


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