The reality is that 40 per cent of the infertility problems that couples face are related to male fertility issues. Unfortunately, many men refuse to admit that they may be the problem and refuse to be tested.
This means that many couples go through years of trying to get pregnant without ever conceiving. This puts both partners through what may be a lot of unnecessary stress, anxiety, and emotional distress.
If you and your partner are having difficulty getting pregnant you both need to be tested for infertility. The reason you both need to be tested is because infertile couples sometimes have more than one cause of their infertility.
It may take a few different tests to find out why you’re not conceiving. For some couples, a cause may never be found. Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you from testing for male infertility.
In order to correct the problem, you need to find out what the causes are.
A Diagnosis of Male Infertility
When it comes to diagnosing male infertility, you’ll first be given a physical exam. Your medical history will also be documented.
Your doctor will examine your genitals and find out if there are any chronic health problems or genetic conditions that can be causing infertility.
You’ll also be asked about any past surgeries, illnesses, or injuries that may affect your fertility. Be prepared to talk about your current sexual habits.
Your doctor will want to rule out all of the obvious first causes of infertility before moving on to more invasive types of tests.
Semen Analysis of Fertility
You’ll have to provide your semen for analysis. This is done in your doctor’s office by masturbation and ejaculation into a cup.
Your semen will then be sent to the lab where it will be tested to see how much sperm is present.
It will also be tested for any sperm abnormalities such as morphology (the shape of the sperm) and motility (the movement of the sperm).
At this time the lab will also examine your sperm to see if there are any infections present. It’s important to note that your sperm count will vary from one sperm specimen that you provide to another.
For this reason, your doctor may take several sperm samples from you and spread the testing out over a few weeks.
If your sperm analysis is normal there are other tests that you’ll have to undergo to determine if male infertility is the reason you’re not getting pregnant.
More In-depth Tests for Male Infertility
There are several different tests that can be used to determine the causes of male infertility.
This includes the following:
- Hormone Testing: You’ll be given a blood test to determine hormone levels. Hormones that are produced by the testicles, hypothalamus, and pituitary glands are important factors not only in the production of sperm but also when it comes to sexual development.
- Retrograde Ejaculation: A test called a Post-ejaculation urinalysis is used to determine if your sperm is moving into the bladder instead of being ejaculated out through the penis. Retrograde ejaculation can lead to infertility.
- Genetic Testing: A blood test can reveal if there are any genetic factors affecting your fertility. Genetic tests can also be used to diagnosis any congenital disorders.
- Testing for Structural Problems: A scrotal ultrasound, which uses sound waves to produce images, can be used to see if there is any blockage or scarring in the testicles or other structures in the male reproductive system.
- Testing for Tubal Blockage: A transrectal ultrasound is used to exam your prostate and checks if there are any blockages to the ejaculatory ducts and tubes that transport the semen.
- Testicle Testing: A testicular biopsy can be done to determine if you have normal sperm production. If sperm production is adequate, there may be other problems with sperm mobility that are a factor in your inability to conceive.
- Antibodies: This test is used to look for any antibodies (immune cells) that may be attacking your sperm. This test is used when other tests have come back negative or if you’ve had a vasectomy that has been reversed.
- Sperm Function Test: Your sperm will be checked to see if and how well they survive once they’ve been ejaculated. They’ll also be tested to see if they are able to attach themselves to an egg and if they are able to enter the egg.
The above tests may not all need to be done to determine the cause of your infertility. Your doctor and infertility specialist will be better able to decide what tests are relevant to your own individual circumstances.
The good news is that with so many tests available, it’s much easier than it was just a few years ago to treat male infertility.
Keep in mind that diagnosing your infertility may take a few months to complete. Don’t be discouraged if the results don’t come back as quickly as you’d like.