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A common problem affecting millions of people worldwide is infertility. Male infertility is equally common as female infertility, despite the belief that it only affects women. In actuality, over half of all cases of infertility are male.  For a man to get a woman pregnant, he must produce healthy sperm. Initially, this involves the growth and formation of the male reproductive organs during puberty. At least one of his testicles must be functioning correctly, and his body must produce testosterone and other hormones to trigger and maintain sperm production.  

There needs to be enough sperm in the semen. If the number of sperm (sperm count) is low, it decreases the odds of fertilization of the egg. A low sperm count is fewer than 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen or fewer than 39 million per ejaculate. Sperm must be shaped correctly and able to move. If the movement (motility) or shape (morphology) is abnormal, the sperm may not be able to reach or penetrate the egg. For men who are having trouble becoming parents, there is still hope in realising their desire of becoming fathers. Numerous causes, including genetic flaws, hormone imbalances, and lifestyle choices like smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs, can lead to male infertility. 

In certain instances, male infertility can also result from underlying medical disorders like diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and STIs. Given that both the amount and quality of sperm decrease with age, ageing can potentially be an issue.

Several health issues and medical treatments can contribute to male infertility. Varicoceles, a swelling of the veins in the scrotum, can impair sperm production and quality. Infections, including STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea, can also affect sperm health or cause blockages. Retrograde ejaculation, a condition where semen enters the bladder instead of exiting the penis, can be caused by various health problems like diabetes or surgery.

Sperm health can be compromised beyond blockages and infections. Injuries to the spine or specific diseases can prevent ejaculation despite sperm production. The body’s defense system can sometimes create antibodies that mistakenly attack sperm like a threat. Additionally, cancers and tumours, both cancerous and non-cancerous, can directly harm the reproductive organs or disrupt hormone production in glands like the pituitary gland, which is crucial for fertility. Even treatments for these conditions, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, can have an impact on a man’s ability to have children.

Diagnosing male infertility often involves a team effort, with both partners potentially needing to undergo testing. The process can be expensive and time-consuming, and not all cases have a clear cause. A doctor will typically start with a physical exam, medical history review, and questions about sexual health and development. Semen analysis is a key test, measuring sperm count, quality, and motility. Multiple tests may be needed to confirm results. If the semen analysis is normal, further evaluation of the female partner might be recommended.

Seeking a medical consultation from a fertility professional is the first step towards conquering male infertility. To identify the reason for infertility, the doctor will conduct a physical examination and prescribe a number of tests. Semen analysis, hormone testing, and genetic testing are a few examples of these tests. Following the diagnosis of the underlying cause of infertility, the patient and the fertility specialist will collaborate to create a customised treatment plan. Sometimes, altering one’s lifestyle to include things like giving up drinking or smoking might help increase the quantity and quality of sperm. In some situations, medical treatments like hormone therapy or surgery might be required. 

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a frequent treatment option for infertility in men. IVF is the process of fertilising eggs in a lab and then putting them into a woman’s uterus. IVF may be combined with an intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) procedure in cases of male infertility. ICSI is a technique that can be useful when there is a low sperm count or quality since it involves inserting a single sperm directly into an egg. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is another therapy option for male infertility. IUI involves injecting cleaned sperm directly into the uterus and is useful when there is a low sperm count or when the sperm is having trouble reaching the egg. It is possible to get pregnant in some situations by using donor sperm. This might be a good option for men who do not have viable sperm or whose sperm quality is very poor.

Men who are having trouble getting their partner pregnant should know that they are not alone, regardless of the course of treatment they decide to choose. Male infertility is a prevalent problem, and men and their partners can get a lot of support to get through the psychological and physical difficulties associated with it, support groups can be a great help. Men can share their stories, connect with others going through similar challenges, and find solace and hope in knowing they are not alone in these meetings, which offer a safe and encouraging environment. Men may also benefit from counselling and therapy. Men frequently feel depressed, anxious, or grieving when they are infertile. Infertility may be a very emotional experience. 

Therapy can offer a secure setting for processing these feelings and creating coping mechanisms to manage the difficulties of infertility. Certainly, millions of men worldwide suffer from the widespread problem of male infertility. For men, there is still hope in realising their desire of becoming fathers. Men can overcome the obstacles of male infertility and discover hope for parenthood by obtaining a medical diagnosis from a fertility specialist, creating a customised treatment plan, and making use of the tools and support available.

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