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Men's Health

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Male Infertility Treatments

What you need to know about treatments for male infertility

Male infertility tests: Going under the microscope continued...

  • Sperm and semen analysis. They provide a private room (and magazines). You provide a fresh sample of semen. Experts then assess your sperm count, their shape, movement, and other variables.
    “Generally, a higher number of normal-shaped sperm means higher fertility,” says Shaban. 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.
    Surprisingly, the complete absence of sperm in the semen (a condition known as azoospermia), can be a good thing. Ross says it might suggest a blockage in the “plumbing” that can be corrected with surgery.
  • Physical examination. A thorough physical exam can detect varicocele and give clues to hormone problems. This should ideally be performed by a urologist.
  • Hormone evaluation. Testosterone and multiple hormones made in the brain control sperm production. However, hormones are not the main problem in 97% of infertile men.
  • Testicular biopsy. This is done for men with very low or no sperm in their semen. A needle biopsy of the testicle can show whether a man is making healthy sperm. If abundant good sperm are found in the testicle, there's likely a blockage somewhere.
  • Genetic testing. Genetic tests can identify specific obstacles to fertility and problems with sperm. Experts differ as to when genetic tests should be done.

Male infertility: New treatments, more pregnancies

The ultimate goal of male infertility treatment is to create a pregnancy. Ideally, the cause of the infertility is reversible and then conception can result from natural sex. Here are some common male infertility treatments.

  • Varicoceles are repaired with surgery to block off the abnormal veins. This seems to result in a significant improvement in fertility, although some studies disagree.
  • Hormonal abnormalities can sometimes be treated with medicine or surgery.
  • Obstructions in the sperm transport plumbing can sometimes be surgically corrected.

In the past, if the above methods didn’t work, it often meant lifelong male infertility. Today, assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs) offer powerful new options.

These high-tech and expensive male infertility treatments give sperm an artificial boost to get into an egg. ARTs have made conception possible even for men with very low or abnormal sperm.

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