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.
GIFT (gamete intrafallopian transfer) and ZIFT (zygote intrafallopian transfer) are modified versions of in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Like IVF, these procedures involve retrieving an egg from the woman, combining with sperm in a lab then transferring back to her body, but in GIFT and ZIFT the process goes more quickly. While in traditional IVF the embryos are observed and raised in a laboratory for 3 to 5 days, in ZIFT, the fertilized eggs -- at this stage called zygotes -- are placed in the fallopian...
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.