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A common misconception is that infertility affects women only. In fact, 45% of couples who experience difficulties conceiving, male infertility is the reason. Unlike women’s eggs, male sperm does not necessarily get affected with age, however, despite the fact that men can continue producing sperm, low sperm count and poor quality sperm is becoming more common with age.
Sperm is released with semen when a male ejaculates. Typically, over 40,000 sperm are released, while it only takes one sperm to fertilize an egg and result in pregnancy. Healthy sperm has good motility, meaning the sperm can move easily and is the correct shape to penetrate the shell of and fertilize the ova.
What Causes Male Infertility?
Male infertility is usually associated with the quality or quantity of sperm. It can also be a consequence of blockades which prevent ejaculation. Problems causing male infertility can be overcome with surgical sperm extraction methods and is being successfully applied in IVF procedures. There is also unexplained male infertility and specialists can sometimes still be incapable of diagnosing these correctly. Sperm donation can be an option in these cases.
Male Infertility Factors
Low sperm count– One of the increasing problems facing men is a low sperm count. A male sperm count is the number of sperm that are released in semen. The lower concentration of sperm in the semen, the less likely fertilization will occur. If few sperm are present in semen, the higher the quality of the sperm needed for conception to take place. The benefit of IVF is that following the extraction of the sperm from semen, healthy sperm can be identified and used to fertilize the egg.
Poor quality sperm– High quality sperm is determined by three main factors: the morphology, or shape, of sperm; the motility of sperm that is the ability of the sperm to move; the speed of the sperm.
- Sperm morphology: Sperm is shaped similar to a tadpole. The genetic cells needed for fertilization of the ova are contained in the front of the sperm and the tail end of the sperm directs it forward. Sperm that is abnormally shaped does not move as well through the semen, reducing the chance of fertilization.
- Motility of sperm: Sperm motility is determined in part by the shape of sperm as well as by the speed. Sperm motility is the ability of the sperm to move forward through the cervical canal to the egg, which defines the overall health of the sperm.
- Speed of the sperm: As soon as sperm is ejaculated in semen, the quality of the sperm begins to decrease. The faster the sperm is the healthier the sperm is, which results in successfully reaching the egg. Sperm that move quickly and have good motility can penetrate ova without any artificial assistance.
Impaired delivery of sperm – Healthy sperm is often produced but for various reasons cannot be ejaculated. Ejaculation problems can be caused by a blockage in the testes, as a side effect of another illness or by impotence problems.
Age and male infertility – Age can also cause degeneration in the quality of sperm produced. Although men continue to produce sperm throughout their lives, age and infertility has proven to be a factor in decreasing quality of sperm and low sperm counts.
The quality and amount of sperm produced is altered by environmental and health factors. Infections, viruses and hormonal imbalances can all damage sperm. Past illnesses, certain medications and injuries to the testes can damage the quality or amount of sperm produced. Overheating testicles or being exposed to lead and x-rays can all cause male factor infertility.
Male Infertility Treatments
Male infertility is often treatable and many couples successfully have children following treatment. The preferred treatment method with the highest success rate is IVF with ICSI. IVF with ICSI in Mexico is a more complex IVF procedure with enhanced success rates. When the sperm has been washed and cleaned, the chosen sperm is injected into the center of the egg. By injected the sperm directly into the egg, the fertilization process is stimulated and the success rate of the infertility treatment is raised.
To diagnose the causes of infertility and to begin infertility treatments, a sample of sperm must be provided to allow doctors to make a semen analysis. If natural ejaculation of sperm is not possible, IVF clinics in Mexico can retrieve sperm using a number of sperm retrieval methods.
Surgical treatments for Male Infertility
Generally, male infertility is caused by problems with sperm or the ejaculation of sperm. For some men, surgery may be required to treat the cause of infertility.
Varicocelectomy – Commonly known as varicose veins of the testis, varioceles make the temperature of the testis higher which can cause low sperm counts. The procedure aims at removing the varioceles and involves removing the blood supply from the varioceles. Following a varicocelectomy procedure in Mexico, the chances of conception are highly increased.
Vasoepididymostomy – Blockages in the epididymis prevent sperm from being ejaculated naturally. These blockages are often caused by scarring or cysts which can be removed in a microsurgery procedure called a vasoepididymostomy. This surgical procedure is complex and is only performed if the scarring or cysts are severe. Surgeons in Mexico offer world-class standards specific to this surgical method.