Male Infertility is something every couple having problems getting pregnant should think about. When it is difficult to conceive, most couples automatically assume it has something to do with the woman and her reproductive system. Unfortunately, chasing after a preconceived problem in the woman can often delay a couple’s chance of having the baby they desire. If only they had considered the male factor, they may have been parents months (or even years) earlier.
It takes two people to make a baby. When something goes awry with either, then conception can be inhibited. For men, problems usually arise in one of these areas:
While size has nothing at all to do with a man’s ability to father a child, the form of his penis can. If the opening of the penis is not large enough to enable the semen/sperm to escape, fertility problems can result. An unusual curvature of an erect penis can cause either Hypospadias in which the opening is on the underside of the penis, or Epispadias in which the opening is on the very top of the penis. Both can prevent the man’s sperm from getting where it needs to be to fertilize his partner’s egg.
A man’s testicles have two important jobs: to produce and to store sperm. Since it is important for the temperature in the testicles to remain at a constant 98 degrees for best sperm health, anything that raises that temperature like varicose veins or even fluid retention can inhibit conception. Varicocele are vessels in the scrotum that are dilated which can cause swelling and fluid retention that impair sperm. Undescended testicles or surgery to correct them may factor into fertility
Assuming a man shows no signs of an unusual penis curvature or testicle temperature, the final check should be made on his sperm. This is where most male factor fertility problems occur.
The journey to the egg is long and difficult. Although more than 200 million sperm are released with every ejaculation, less than half of them survive the first few hours. Many never make it past the cervix due to an inability to swim or misdirection. Only the strongest have even the slightest chance of making it all the way.
Some things that can affect a sperm’s ability to make it to the uterus for fertilization include shape, mobility and the number of sperm available.
Without a high enough sperm count a man may not be able to father a child. Luckily, there are many things that can be tried to increase a low sperm count including medications; dietary changes; herbs and supplements as well as certain exercises.
Damaged sperm which are not shaped correctly can also cause infertility, since they are rarely strong enough to make it to the egg, and if one does fertilize the egg, the pregnancy may terminate early due to the sperm’s inability to create a healthy baby. A rounded large head or pinhead is unable to fertilize an egg as is a midpiece lacking enough fructose.
Lastly, mobility can be a real issue for some men. Unless his sperm has the right shaped and length tale to swim quickly enough to get to that unfertilized egg in time, his journey will be for naught.
According to The World Health Organization, a man’s sperm must meet the following criteria to be considered viable:
The Right Volume: at least 1.5 to 5 ml, or about one teaspoon.
The Right Concentration: more than 20 million sperm/ml, or a total of greater than 40 million per ejaculate.
Proper Motility: More than 40 percent of the sperm should be motile, or moving.
Enough Morphology: More than 30 percent of a man’s sperm should be normally shaped to be considered useable.
The Right Forward Progression: This means that the majority of the sperm move forward adequately.
The Correct Hyper Viscosity: Semen should gel promptly but liquefy within 30 minutes after ejaculation.
Proper Ph Levels: Sperm should be alkaline – this protects sperm from acidic vaginal pH.
A Lack of Antisperm Antibodies: If antisperm antibodies are present, they can attach themselves to the sperm tail, interfering with movement and causing infertility.
As you can see, there are a lot of things that can go awry with a man’s sperm, causing a disruption in his fertility. Luckily, there are plenty of easy tests to take to determine the exact cause of the male factor in order to better treat it.
Experts at Mayo Clinic Laboratories offer the reminder that, “Semen specimens can vary widely in the same man from specimen to specimen. Semen parameters falling outside of the normal ranges do not preclude fertility for that individual. Multiple samples may need to be analyzed prior to establishing patient’s fertility status.”
To learn more about natural fertility herbs and supplements to help increase sperm count and sperm health check out these two guides:
- Increasing Low Sperm Count and Improving Male Fertility…
- Men, Should You Also Prepare for Conception?…Fertility Cleansing for Men
- World Health Organization reference values for human semen characteristics. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/infertility/cooper_et_al_hru.pdf
- Vasan, S. (2011). Semen analysis and sperm function tests: How much to test? Indian Journal of Urology, 27(1), 41. doi:10.4103/0970-1591.78424 Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3114587/
Test ID: FER Semen Analysis. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mayocliniclabs.com/test-catalog/Clinical and Interpretive/81641