By Dr. Thomas E. Fisher, DO
Infertility is often thought of as a “female thing;” so you may be surprised to learn that it’s attributed to the male partner up to 40% of the time. Evaluating both partners during a fertility assessment is essential.
These are the most common questions we get from men prior to an evaluation.
Question 1: How do you identify a male infertility issue?
Answer: The easiest way is with semen analysis. We examine concentration, motility (the ability of sperm to travel through the female reproductive tract), and shape of the sperm.
Question 2: Do testosterone supplements affect our chance of conceiving?
Answer: Testosterone supplementation may lead to infertility by disrupting a man’s reproductive physiology and decreasing his ability to produce sperm.
Question 3: I have pain, swelling, or I feel a mass around my testicles. Could this be a cause of infertility?
Answer: Pain and/or swelling could be related to dilated blood vessels around the testicles, which can lead to an abnormal semen analysis and infertility. It’s best to be evaluated by a healthcare provider to determine if this is what’s happening for you.
Question 4: How often should we have intercourse when we are trying to conceive?
Answer: Sperm can be present in the female reproductive tract for 3 or more days; so intercourse every other day during the optimal fertile time is sufficient.
Question 5: I have recently been diagnosed with cancer. My doctor told me that I need chemotherapy and/or radiation, which may permanently affect my sperm count. I would like to have children in the future. Is there anything I can do?
Answer: Yes. Sperm samples can be collected and frozen for later use in a variety of fertility treatments, such as IUI (intrauterine insemination) or IVF (in vitro fertilization).
Question 6: I am in the military and will be deployed for an extended period of time. We’d like to start a family soon—is there anything I can do before being deployed?
Answer: Yes. With approval by both partners, sperm samples collected and frozen prior to deployment can be used later for IUI during the deployment.
Question 7: My semen analysis was abnormal. What should I do next?
Answer: After an abnormal semen analysis, it’s important to follow up with your healthcare provider. He or she may recommend repeating the semen analysis in a few months. If analysis second semen analysis is abnormal, you may be referred to a fertility specialist for further evaluation.
Question 8: Can alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana use affect my semen analysis?
Answer: Yes. Tobacco and marijuana use is a well-documented cause of alterations in semen analysis. In addition to supporting a healthy lifestyle, reducing or eliminating tobacco or marijuana use can be beneficial for fertility. It’s less clear whether low to moderate alcohol consumption alters semen analysis. However, excessive alcohol consumption is definitively linked to changes in semen analysis.
Question 9: I had a vasectomy, but now I want more children. What can I do?
Answer: Vasectomy reversal or in vitro fertilization may allow you to achieve pregnancy. Consult a specialist to learn the benefits and drawbacks of each option and to determine which treatment is best for you.
Photo: Hannah Morgan