For approximately 40 percent of couples who are experiencing infertility, the problem is at least in part related to male reproductive issues. It is essential that men be assessed to pinpoint the treatable or untreatable causes of male infertility.
What is infertility?
Infertility, defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy after one year of unprotected intercourse, affects up to 15% of all couples in the U.S. Although women are usually the first to be evaluated, approximately 40% of infertility cases are due to male factors.
What can I expect from an appointment?
While infertility can cause significant stress for individuals and couples, a logical and thorough approach to evaluating and treating this problem can often provide successful results.
Evaluation of the male involves a complete medical history, physical examination, and laboratory testing. The medical history includes pertinent childhood illnesses, previous surgery, family history, and sexual activity. After completing a physical exam, the urologist will determine which laboratory tests are needed. This will usually consist of a semen analysis and a blood test to check hormone levels.
Once the results of the initial evaluation are received, it will be determined if any additional testing is required. Ultrasound tests are often helpful in evaluating men with infertility. Your doctor will discuss any recommended tests with you.
What are the treatment options?
The treatment of male infertility falls into three main categories:
- Medication – Some men will have problems that can be treated with medication.
- Surgery – Patients have a cause of infertility that can be fixed or improved with surgery.
- Assisted reproduction techniques – These are done in conjunction with a gynecologist or reproductive endocrinologist. These techniques include intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Couples that have been attempting to achieve pregnancy for more than one year unsuccessfully should undergo evaluation. In addition to an evaluation of the female partner by her doctor, an evaluation of the male partner by a urologist with expertise in infertility is essential.