Interestingly, the WebMD medical website states that up to half of the cases of infertility can be directed to a health problem that the man has - not the woman. Further, 20-30 percent of the time, it is the man’s low fertility that is the key factor in the couple’s inability to conceive. So just what are the available options for fertility testing for men?
Simply put, if both the man and woman get tested (especially after trying at least a year of having unprotected sex to get pregnant without any success), then this may save time and money. The earlier the problem is found, the earlier treatment can be recommended.
An appointment should be made with an urologist for an evaluation. Expect the basic medical interview -- your medical history, reproductive history, surgeries you’ve had, and whether or not you smoke, exercise or do drugs -- and a physical exam. Lastly, a semen sample will be taken and tested.
The sperm and semen analysis is used to examine the sperm count, how they are shaped, their mobility and other factors. Normally, the larger the amount and the more healthier-shaped the sperm count is, then the better the fertility.
Interestingly, however, it has been noted that some men who have low sperm count and abnormal semen may still be fertile. But for those who are not fertile, if there is anything appearing as abnormal, additional tests can be conducted to find out the cause.
A physical exam, performed by an urologist, can indicate if there are any problems as well. One such problem may be varicocoeles -- it is the most common male infertility problem -- totaling 38 percent of the cases. Variococoeles happens when there are abnormal formations of veins above the testicles. Thankfully, this can be repaired by surgery.
Genetic testing is done to test infertility also. These tests can show up particular problems that may block fertility and even specific problems with the sperm.
Abnormal antibodies – some men produce antibodies that attack their own sperm before the sperm can make it to fertilize the egg.
Retrograde ejaculation – this means the sperm releases in the wrong direction, usually into the bladder. This condition is usually caused by an earlier surgical procedure.
Absence of main sperm pipeline – this is considered a genetic problem since the man is born without the route for the sperm to travel by.
Obstruction – this is a blockage that can develop in the vicinity of the testicles to the penis but can usually be corrected by surgery.
Fertility Tests for Men. WebMD. Web. 14 November 2011.
Male Infertility. Mayo Clinic. Web. 14 November 2011.
Dita Faulkner is a freelance writer and a poet living in Tennessee. Check out some of her poetry at her blog, Red Toenails.
Reviewed November 15, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith