Causes and treatments for infertile men
There are many treatments available and the choice of treatment depends on the cause and also the individual’s level of comfort on it.
- Hormonal disorders
Deficiency of two hormones from the pituitary gland – luteinising hormone (LH) and follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) – can occur either congenitally or as a side effect of treatment of other disorders. Usually the patient will present with azoospermia (absence of sperm in ejaculation) and androgen deficiency.
Treatment with synthetic LH and FSH readily kick-start the sperm producing function of the testes and spontaneous pregnancies are common after treatment.
- Blockages of sperm transport
This is normally the result of a disorder in the development of the genital tract, a previous bad infection or a previous vasectomy.
This occurs in about 6 per cent of men with infertility. A bypass surgery is sometimes possible depending on the level of obstruction. Otherwise, sperm can be readily obtained by surgery for use in in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) to achieve pregnancy.
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- Medical therapy such as anabolic steroids and cytotoxic therapy
Sperm production usually recovers with cessation of therapy or change of medication.
- Sperm antibodies
The reason for the occurrence is usually not obvious. Sperm antibodies interfere with fertility by reducing sperm motility and severely affecting fertilisation. Pregnancy chances increase with therapy targeted at the sperm antibodies, however in some cases IVF is necessary for a good result.
- Disorder of sexual function
This includes failure of sexual intercourse because of inadequate penile erection, failure of ejaculation, low sexual frequency and poor timing of sexual intercourse. Frequently, these conditions respond to treatment including proper counselling.
What is IVF?
Find out all about options for infertility on the next page…