At the age of 29, when Neha(name changed) and her husband Himanshu(35), both IT professionals, decided that it was the right time to start a family, they were in for a shock. Upon several rounds of various health check-ups, they finally decided to go for a fertility test. Neha’s reports were normal, howeverHimanshuwas found to have no sperms left, a male infertility condition called azoospermia, in spite of being entirely healthy otherwise.
Pune: Infertility affects both men and women equally. Calling infertility a female problem is a common misconception, even among certain healthcare providers. The incidence of male infertility is on the rise, and it is rampant in cities where people are prone to stressful lifestyle. Many male fertility problems go undiagnosed and untreated, either because attention focuses on their partner or because men are reluctant to get help or unable to find it when they seek. Moreover, men often resist being tested; unlike gynaecologists for women, male infertility specialists or andrologistsare only a few in number.
Dr. Rajendra Nakhare, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVI Fertility, Pune said “There are various factors that influence men’s fertility. It can be genetic or caused by an infection, testicular or pelvic injury or a severe medical condition. In our center in the last six months, we found that above 40% of all cases have male infertility factors. The majority of the male infertility patients in Pune fall under the young age group between 29 and 35. Over 65% of infertile patients in the city are over 29 years of age.”
About5-10% of male infertility is because of azoospermia, i.e. absence of viable sperms in the semen. “Sometimes men are able to produce sperms in sufficient quantity but the quality is poor. This causes difficulty in conception. For fertilisation to take place, sperm must be able to reach the egg and then penetrate its outer layer. Sperms that don’t move well or are abnormally shaped may be unable to do this” addedDr. Rajendra Nakhare.
Some of the frequently seen problems that cause male infertility are acute infections like mumps and chronic infections like TB, prostatitis, etc. Another common and reversible problem is varicocele, an enlargement of the veins that wraps around the testicles and affects sperm development. It occurs in about 15 to 20 percent of infertile men. Congenital obstruction and sexual dysfunctions are also common.
Lifestyle factors such as age, delayed marriages, nutrition, lack of regular exercise, work stress, exposure to environmental pollutants, etc. also play a role in the development of infertility in men. Habits like cigarette smoking, illicit drug and alcohol abuse negatively influence fertility in men. Both obesity and poorly controlled diabetes can also affect fertility.
How male fertility check-ups are done
A male fertility assessment usually starts with a thorough medical history and a semen analysis that examines the count, motility and morphology of sperm in the ejaculate. Further testing is based on the results of the analysis. Men with low sperm counts, for example, might require hormonal or genetic testing. If no sperm are found in the ejaculate, a testicular biopsy may be necessary.
Couples struggling with infertility should make every effort to find the right help for both partners. While ob-gyns deal with women’s reproductive problems, comprehensive infertility care units are the best options for men to seek help at. There are many treatment options starting from simple tablets to IUI (injecting sperms directly into the uterus) to IVF-ICSI (test tube baby) depending on the cause and severity of the condition. Advanced ART techniques like MACS help select better quality sperms for ICSI.
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