What You Need to Know About Male Infertility
Articles / 7 July, 2022
Not being able to have a child is nothing to be ashamed of, Mama Eliza thought as she stared at the women of different ages step up from their seats and walked towards the church altar. The Pastor repeated “special prayers for those who are looking for a children come out”, that changed her stare from mere looking to disgust. “Why was it all women”, she thought Or did he call it fruit or the womb and that was why no man stepped out? But she heard him clearly.
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Was it just women who were looking for children? Was it only important to their gender? Or were their husbands too proud to admit that it was an issue for them too? The thoughts occupied her till she got home.
“Mummy! Mummy!” Her children called. Oh! how spirit lifting was it to hear those words from her twin children. They had just returned from church with their father. 4 years old and they still made her life better every time she saw them. They were her blessings and … for the 9 years she had been childless, well they (because her husband was involved too).
Paternity fraud is on the increase, and it is beginning to get justified as defenses for women accused of not being able to conceive. If they could get pregnant from someone else then the childlessness wasn’t the woman’s fault but she didn’t want to think that way. There was no reason to validate immorality besides It wouldn’t have been okay if the man impregnated another woman and brought the children home . With pressure from her mother - in - law, the society, her friends, not once did it occur to her and thank God she married a good man. She could never forget the day, after drinking the very bitter concoctions one of her colleagues gave her to aid fertility and crying bitterly that she had tried everything, visited every fertility doctor practicing both orthodox and unorthodox, her husband said “Maybe its me” and with that statement their approach changed!
“Sir, ur sperm is too weak to swim to the egg” The doctor said. “Are you saying I can’t impregnate my wife? That I am infertile ?”
Male infertility is no joke! It is not as talked about as it should be. If it was, maybe, there would be more solutions.
Infertility is the Inability to conceive a child after six months of unprotected sex at least twice weekly with the same partner in the absence of female causes. It is mostly as a result of abnormal sperm count or quality.
Causes Of Infertility In Men
- Low Sperm Count – Hormonal imbalance, Scrotal temperature, Antibodies That Affect Sperm.
- Genetics - Hereditary or altered DNA issues, klinefelter’s syndrome
- Vasectomy or other surgery procedure that may cause the man to be sterile
- Congenital defects - an abnormality before birth that can cause infertility e.g. cystic fibrosis
- Sexually transmitted Infections or Other Diseases Affecting the Reproductive system - Different infections especially when left untreated can affect fertility. For example, Chlamydia can lead to inflammation of parts of the male sexual and reproductive system causing Prostatis, Orchitis or even cause damage to these parts. Other infections that can affect infertility include gonorrhea, syphilis etc.
- Erectile Dysfunction - Problems with getting the penis to be erect or maintaining the erect position.
- Ejaculatory Problems - Sperm comes out too quickly sometimes even before insertion or sperm doesn’t come out properly which may be due to retrograde ejaculation (where semen enters the bladder instead of emerging out)
- Obesity - Obese men are known to have lower sperm counts, increased level of erectile dysfunction and increased scrotal temperature due to extra abdominal weight. There is reduced level of FSH which reduces testosterone production.
- Oxidative Damage - 80 % of male factor sub-fertility is due to oxidative stress. Sub-fertile men have lower levels of antioxidants in their semen. Free Radicals cause Infertility by Damaging membranes and the sperm’s ability to penetrate the egg. They can also alter cell DNA affecting a lot of fertilization activities. High levels of free radicals are found in the semen of approximately 40% of infertile men.
- Anatomical defects of the male reproductive system - varicocele (inflammation of the veins within the scrotum), undescended testicles (failure of testicles to descend from abdomen to the sac), defected tubules (blocked tubes that carry sperm)
- Certain Medications - Steroid use, cancer medication, some arthritis drug etc can impair sperm production thus decreasing male fertility.g
- Lifestyle causes such as smoking, alcohol and illicit drug use, etc.
Who Is At Risk
Someone with a family history of fertility disorder
Drug abusers (using illicit drugs)
People exposed to heavy radiation
Persons with untreated sexual or urinary tract Infections
Having trauma to testicles
How To Tell If A Person Is Infertile
Firstly, the person should be willing to see a doctor who will carry out general physical examination (examine the genitals) and medical history (obtain information about past and present health conditions). Then tests like sperm and semen analysis, blood tests, hormonal levels, urinalysis to check infections and sperm movement, ultrasound(high frequency sound wave to produce image of inside the body) and vasography, testicular biopsy, genetic testing, Anti - sperm Antibodies, etc
Treatment For Male Infertility
The cause of the infertility is identified, it is managed or treated
For treatment of structural causes of anatomical defects affecting fertility like varicocele
- Diet and Lifestyle adaptations
- Exercise regularly, including relaxation exercise
- Consume raw nuts and seeds like sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. Avoid cotton seeds as it may inhibit sperm formation
- Reduce alcohol, caffeine and sugar
- Reduce unprocessed food, consume more of whole foods
- Reduce tight - fitting underwear and clothings as it increases temperature which inhibits sperm production. Wear boxer type underwear
- Eat more farmed fish with high levels of essential fat as essential fats protects sperm and encourage its movement. Avoid trans fat, rancid or oxidized fats and excessive saturated fat.
- Antibiotics For Treatment Of Infections
- Sex enhancement drugs for erectile dysfunction
- Hormonal Treatment by increasing testosterone, decreasing estradiol etc with drugs such as hCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin), clomid and very rarely anastrozole etc
- Zinc - essential for male sexual function and reproduction. Studies have shown that zinc supplements increase sperm count and testosterone levels. It has also shown to have antimicrobial effect in seminal fluid which means it can help fight infection and sperm antibodies.
- Vitamin E - is the main antioxidant in various cell membranes especially sperm. It inhibits free radical damage to the unsaturated fatty acids of the sperm membrane. 400 to 800 I.U.
- Vitamin C - improves all semen variables, viability and motility, reduced number of abnormal sperm. 500mg to 1000mg three times daily
- Selenium - an antioxidant essential to testosterone synthesis, sperm maturity and motility. It also prevents oxidative damage to sperm. In combination with n - acetylcysteine can increase sperm count and motility
- Vitamin A - enhances cellular growth and differentiation. Low levels of vitamin A is associated with abnormal semen variables.
- Carnithine - protective effects, provides energy to testicles and sperm. Its levels are extremely high in the epididymis and sperm suggesting a role in reproductive health. 300mg three times daily
- Arginine - essential for replication of cells, so it is essential in sperm formation. It increases sperm count and motility
- Vitamin B12 (Active)/Methylcobalamin - safeguard sperm DNA and low levels may cause decreased sperm motility and count.(2000mcg daily)
- Folic Acid - Studies have shown that low levels of folic acid are associated with increased sperm DNA damage.
- Omega 3 - increses sperm motility and morphology. 1000 - 2000mg EPA + DHA
- Alpha - Lipoic Acid - regenerates other antioxidants and protects sperm
- Ashwaganda - It has anti stress effects, inhibits lipid peroxidation and improve sperm count and motility. Also increases serum testosterone and other beneficial effects in infertile men.
- Coenzyme Q10 - Improves sperm integrity and motility
Others included Velvet bean, Chinese Ginseng, Pygeum, Tribulus, Flaxseed oil etc.
- Assisted Reproductive Technology
- Artificial Insemination
- Gamete intra-fallopian transfer
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (icsi)
Increase Sex Frequency
Have Sex During Ovulation
Avoid Smoking And Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Rare cases where it can’t be treated Adoption Or Donor Sperm