Male fertility before IVF: Why it matters
Analyzing male fertility before IVF treatment is an important factor, it means that infertility is not just related to females. According to research, 20-30% of infertility among couples is related to male infertility.
In this article, we will talk about male fertility and infertility and the factors which affect them, disorders, and treatments.
What is male fertility?
Male fertility is dependent on the continuous production of sperm by the testes in order to fertilize an egg and the ability for erection and ejaculation in order for the sperm to reach the egg. So the health and quality of sperms is important.
What factors contribute to sperm health?
Sperm health is influenced by multiple factors, including quantity, movement, and structure.
When at least 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen are released during a single ejaculation, fertility is most likely to occur. It may be more challenging to become pregnant if there are insufficient sperm in an ejaculation because there will be fewer sperm available to fertilize the egg.
Sperm must wriggle and swim through a female’s cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes in order to reach and fertilize an egg. Motility is the term for this. Less than 40% of the sperm in the ejaculate can move, but 40% is regarded as the threshold for pregnancy. More is always better.
Morphology refers to the structure of sperm. Sperm usually have oval heads and long tails that work together to propel them. This is not as significant as sperm quantity or movement.
What’s the best way to produce healthy sperm?
As previously stated, producing healthy sperm is critical for fertility, and there are easy actions you can take to increase your chances of producing healthy sperm,
The following table lists the actions you should and should not take in order to produce healthy sperm:
|Maintain a healthy weight||Obesity|
|Eat a healthy diet||Smoking|
|Prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)||Alcohol intake|
|Manage stress||Use of illicit drugs|
|Do exercise||Psychological stress|
|Take nutritious supplements||Advanced paternal age|
What is male infertility?
Male infertility is the inability of a man, after a year of regular, unprotected sex, to achieve a pregnancy with a female partner. Male infertility relates to the count, morphology, and motility of sperm.
Infertility affects 8% to 12% of couples who are of reproductive age worldwide. Men account for about half of all cases of infertility, even though they are entirely responsible for 20% to 30% of those couple-based cases.
The table below lists the causes of low sperm count, abnormal sperm morphology, and low sperm motility in males:
|Low sperm count causes||Abnormal sperm morphology causes||Low sperm motility causes|
|Hormone imbalance||increased testicular temperature||Smoking|
|Varicocele||Exposure to toxic chemicals||Varicocele|
|Ejaculation problems||Infection||Testicular cancer|
|Undescended testicles||Testicular surgery|
|Defects of tubules that transport sperm||Undescended testicles|
Tests to examine males fertility
Males should also test their fertility because, as was already mentioned, there are a variety of factors that both men and women can cause infertility.
There are many tests obtainable today to identify the cause of fertility, thanks to advancements in medical science and technology. Perhaps you are already aware of the treatments, but if not, don’t worry; we’ll talk about the treatments after that part.
The summarized male fertility tests and their analysis can be found in the table below:
Fertility tests for men
|Semen analysis||Sperm count, motility, and morphology|
|Scrotal ultrasound||Varicocele and other abnormalities of testicles|
|Transrectal ultrasound||Prostate and blockages|
|Hormone testing||Testosterone and other hormones|
|Post-ejaculation urinalysis||Retrograde ejaculation|
|Genetic tests||Various congenital or inherited syndromes|
|Testicular biopsy||Testicles sperm production|
Before conducting these tests, the doctor should note and analyze the general examination and medical history of males. For example, inherited conditions, chronic health problems, illnesses, injuries, or surgeries, and sexual habits.
Males infertility treatment methods
In some cases, the exact cause of infertility in both males and females can’t be recognized. Nowadays fertility treatment methods are developed even if the exact cause of infertility is not found so don’t worry.
Some treatment methods for males infertility are listed in the following table:
|Surgery||Varicocele, Ejaculatory duct obstruction (EDO), Sperm retrieval|
|Antibiotic treatment||Infection of the reproductive tract|
|Hormone treatments and medications||High or low levels of certain hormones|
|Medication, Psychotherapy, Sex therapy||Sexual dysfunction|
|IVF, (ICSI)||Injecting live sperm into the egg|
Some recommendations for boosting male fertility
There are a number of things that men can do to boost their fertility. Here are a few recommendations:
- Eat a healthy diet. This means eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It is also important to limit processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats.
- Lose weight if you are overweight or obese. Excess weight can affect sperm production and motility.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise can help to improve sperm quality and quantity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
- Quit smoking. Smoking can damage sperm and reduce fertility.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Too much alcohol can also damage sperm.
- Get enough sleep. When you are well-rested, your body produces more testosterone, which is important for sperm production. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
- Manage stress. Stress can affect sperm production and quality. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, yoga, or meditation.
- Take a fertility supplement. There are a number of fertility supplements on the market that may help to improve sperm health. Talk to your doctor about whether a supplement is right for you. To obtain additional information about these supplements, please click here.
If you are concerned about your fertility, it is important to talk to your doctor. They can assess your fertility and recommend specific steps that you can take to improve it. Our expert team is here to answer tour questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Nicole O. Palmer, Hassan W. Bakos, Tod Fullston & Michelle Lane (2012) Impact of obesity on male fertility, sperm function and molecular composition, Spermatogenesis, 2:4, 253-263, DOI: 10.4161/spmg.21362
A.A. Pacey and others, Modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors for poor sperm morphology, Human Reproduction, Volume 29, Issue 8, August 2014, Pages 1629–1636, https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/deu116