When I was trying to get pregnant, a second time, after a very easy "accidental" first pregnancy, I encountered that awful condition that so many couples face - infertility. Back in the 1980s (and probably even today), the assumption was that the woman has the problem and much of the testing (some rather unpleasant) was (and still is) done on her. But actually, men significantly contribute to this problem, and in fact, can account for 50% of the inability of a couple to conceive.
This awareness week has been celebrated for 19 years and is an effort to encourage both couples and their healthcare providers to look at the "whole picture' when it comes to infertility. It is so easy to take a sperm sample (or even several) and to then assess the sperm for numbers, motility and morphology in an effort to determine if the "guy has the problem." A full assessment for male infertility includes a history, full physical, blood work and two semen analyses. As a couple, the recommendation is that if you have been "trying for one year" unsuccessfully, then it's time for doctors to look at both of you.
The most common causes of male infertility are:
Oligospermia - producing too few sperm
Azoospermia - producing no sperm
Varicoceles - varicose veins in the scrotum
Retrograde ejaculation - obstruction that causes flow of the sperm into the bladder
Intervention options depend on which condition the man has and the age of the woman partner. In our own case, we did several inseminations after my husband's sperm was noted to be low with some motility/morphology issues that we are assuming may have been due to accumulated radiation exposure as he sometimes performed certain procedures on patients. Insemination number 3 was the "charm."
Don't let infertility daunt you. In many cases, depending on which partner has the issue, there are viable solutions.
Published On: October 20, 2008