Although many people still think of infertility as a "woman's problem," in about 40% of infertile couples, the man is the sole cause or a contributing cause of the inability to conceive. One-third of infertility cases can be attributed to male problems, including low sperm count.
So it's crucial that men get tested for fertility as well as women. Yes, it can be embarrassing, but discovering male fertility problems early can mean earlier treatment and a successful pregnancy. Male infertility testing can also spare women unnecessary discomfort and expense.
Stopping fertility treatments -- whether fertility drugs or an assisted reproductive technology -- can be a major issue for couples.
For couples that don't define the ''enough is enough'' point before embarking on the journey to pregnancy, these treatments may become addictive, with each new cycle bringing a flush of optimism. "Just one more cycle and then we'll stop" can go on for longer than the recommended cycle-length of the fertility drugs, and in some cases, for longer than two years --...
A frank discussion about your sexual life, including any problems with sex or previous sexually transmitted diseases
In any evaluation for male infertility, the man will need to provide a sample of semen for analysis, typically at the doctor's office or nearby. It's important that the analysis take place quickly.
Male Infertility Tests
Identifying the cause of a man's infertility is as much an art as a science. Male infertility specialists differ in their approach, but here are some of the tests a man can expect:
Sperm and Semen Analysis
A trained expert assesses the man's sperm count, their shape, movement, and other variables. Generally, a higher number of normal-shaped sperm means higher fertility. But exceptions are common. Many men with low sperm counts or abnormal semen are still fertile. And about 15% of infertile men have normal semen and plenty of normal sperm.
If the first semen analysis is normal, the doctor may order a second test to confirm the results. Two normal tests are usually interpreted to mean that the man doesn't have any significant infertility problems. If something in the results looks irregular, the doctor might order further tests to pinpoint the problem.
Surprisingly, if no semen or sperm at all are present (azoospermia), this can be a good thing. It might suggest a blockage in the "plumbing" that can be corrected with surgery.