Baby making is a complex game that some of us have trouble competing in and unfortunately for some they will never win. Astonishingly, the stats tell us that around one in five Australian couples have problems conceiving a child. In 30% of cases it is down to the infertility of the man that causes conception problems for couples.
Trying for a baby
You can spend years trying not to get pregnant and when the time comes you usually expect it to happen straight away. A couple is considered to have fertility problems when they have been having regular unprotected sex for more than a year. For some couples the fun and excitement of trying for a baby is replaced with anxiety and stress as they calculate, test, and plan their chances of conceiving.
Getting professional answers to conception problems can provide relief to couples and tests for both partners can provide some explanation to the issues. Examining male infertility issues can involve semen analysis, blood tests, testicular biopsy, and ultrasounds.
The main causes of male infertility are:
- Low sperm count when the semen does not have enough sperm to achieve conception.
- Poor mobility of sperm when the sperm are not swimming efficiently.
- Abnormal shaped sperm if they are abnormal shaped then they may not be able to penetrate the woman’s reproductive system.
- Absent sperm no sperm in the semen, which can be caused by tube blockage or testicular failure.
- Impotence unable to maintain or achieve an erection during sex.
- Retrograde when semen enters the bladder rather than leaving the penis.
- Problems to the testicles injury or infection to the testicles can cause infertility.
- Hormonal problems insufficient production of the hormone which stimulates the testicles to produce semen.
There are many ways that men can help prevent infertility such as:
- Giving up smoking
- Reducing alcohol consumption
- Reducing caffeine consumption
- Avoiding tight fitting underwear
- Improving diet
- Improving well-being and reducing stress levels
- Avoiding sexually transmitted diseases
- Avoiding exposure to harmful chemicals
Men can seek treatments to increase the chances of conception, such as:
- Artificial insemination the semen is collected and put in the woman’s uterus through the cervix.
- Surgery if the tubes within the man’s reproductive system have a blockage then they can be surgically removed and repaired under surgery.
- IVF (in vitro fertilisation) this is a procedure in which conception happens outside of the body. The man’s sperm and the woman’s eggs are collected and stored in an incubator. When the eggs are fertilised they are implanted as embryos into the woman’s uterus through the cervix.
- ICSI (intra-sytoplasmic sperm injection) if the semen contains too few sperm or abnormal shaped semen then ICSI can be used if IVF fails to work. ICSI involves injecting the egg with individual sperm until the egg is fertilised.
- Hormone therapy male fertility can be caused when the pituitary gland does not produce enough levels of the hormone gonadotropins, which stimulates the testicles to produce sperm. Medication can be taken to increase the production of the sperm.
Where to go for help and support for infertility
- Your doctor book an appointment with your doctor if you have been struggling to conceive
- Fertility clinic
- Family planning clinic
- Access Australia Australia’s National Infertility Network promotes the well-being and welfare of infertile people.
- The Donor Conception Support Group provides support to couples considering accessing donor sperm, egg or embryo programs.
- Fertility Society of Australia (FSA) patient support groups are associated with many of their fertility and IVF clinics.
- Your Fertility provides information to couples to help them conceive.
Have you had problems conceiving and what action did you take? Has your partner had infertility problems?