•What Men Should Know About INFERTILITY
Making a baby is a simple and natural experience for most couples. However, for some couples it is very difficult to conceive. Infertility affects approximately 1 out of every 6 couples. An infertility diagnosis is given to a couple who are unable to conceive over the course of one year. When the problem lies with the male partner it is referred to as male infertility. Male infertility factors contribute to approximately 30% of all infertility cases, and male infertility alone accounts for approximately one-fifth of all infertility cases. It is usually caused by problems that affect either sperm production or sperm transport. About two-thirds of infertile men have a problem with making sperm in the testes.
A man’s fertility generally relies greatly on the quantity and quality of his sperm. If the number of sperm a man ejaculates is low or if the sperm are of a poor quality, it will be difficult, and sometimes impossible, for him to cause a pregnancy. It is diagnosed when, after testing both partners, reproductive problems have been found in the male.
Sperm health is an important factor in a couple’s ability to conceive. There are six main criteria for healthy sperm: volume, motility, shape, ability to pass through the cervical mucus and make it to the egg, acrosome reaction, zonal pellucida binding and nuclear decondensation. Sperm also need to have the right number of chromosomes for a successful pregnancy. A breakdown in any of these criteria can result in male-factor infertility. An estimated 15–20 percent of couples worldwide are affected by infertility. Of those, approximately 30–40 percent are infertile due to male factors, including sperm motility. Another 20 percent are infertile due to a combination of male and female factors.
Healthy sperm motility is defined as sperm with forward progressions of at least 25 micrometers per second. If a man has poor sperm mobility, it’s called asthenospermia or asthenozoospermia. There are different types of sperm motility issues, including: slow or sluggish progressive motility, non-progressive motility, which is defined as anything less than 5 micrometers per second and no mobility at all.
Male fertility is a complex process. To get your partner pregnant, the following must occur: You must produce healthy sperm. Initially, this involves the growth and formation of the male reproductive organs during puberty. At least one of your testicles must be functioning correctly, and your body must produce testosterone and other hormones to trigger and maintain sperm production. Sperm have to be carried into the semen. Once sperm are produced in the testicles, delicate tubes transport them until they mix with semen and are ejaculated out of the penis. There needs to be enough sperm in the semen. If the number of sperm in your semen (sperm count) is low, it decreases the odds that one of your sperm will fertilize your partner’s egg. A low sperm count is fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen or fewer than 39 million per ejaculate. Sperm must be functional and able to move. If the movement (motility) or function of your sperm is abnormal, the sperm may not be able to reach or penetrate your partner’s egg which will result in infertility
The exact cause for low sperm motility can vary. Some men may have a genetic cause, while others may have an undiagnosed medical condition. Lifestyle and environmental factors also play a big role in sperm motility. Smoking, for example, has been linked to decreased sperm motility, Men who work in the military or have jobs that include painting, driving, or repeated trauma to the pelvic area may be at risk for work-induced infertility.A condition called varicocele occurs when veins inside the scrotum become enlarged. This has also been linked to decreased sperm motility.
Low sperm motility may also be due to a disorder in the male accessory sex gland secretion, which leads to the glands emptying more slowly. There are some treatments that can correct these issues. Some lifestyle changes may help increase sperm motility for some men like exercising regularly maintaining a healthy weight, limiting cell phone exposure, reduction of alcohol and quit smoking. Some regulated supplements may also help improve sperm motility.
Many factors can affect male fertility. If the sperm is otherwise healthy, pregnancy with low sperm motility can occur. Using a reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI) can help increase the chances of pregnancy. This is because they bypass the need for the sperm to swim on their own.