By Maclawrence Famuyiwa
In many climes all over the world, women are handed the wrong end of the stick, when finding the culprits of childlessness in marriages. And in pursuit of finding solutions to this, many women have contributed to the booming businesses of religious centers, herbalists’ homes and diviners’ coves. Meanwhile, the men folks live in the foolery of the belief that the faults can never be theirs, insomuch, they could function well between the sheets. However, this assertion, medically speaking, is far from the truth.
Infertility in marriage generally refers to when a man and a woman engaged in unprotected sex, at a frequent interval, for over a year and the woman is unable to conceive. It is seen in approximately one in every six couples willing to conceive. Many researches, in different parts of the world, have shown that factors originating from men contribute at least 50% to cases of infertility diagnosed among couples. A man, and not only women, is therefore automatically a suspect, when his wife is not pregnant after a year of marriage, when regular sexual intercourse has taking place.
Many factors contribute to make infertility. Some of these include varicoceles, which refers to the enlargement of veins in the testicles of men that cause overheating, which may affect the number or shape of the sperm. Also, injuries to the testes are known to affect sperm production thereby lowering the number of sperm. Infertility is also commonly seen in people with history of undescended testicle(s).
Other unsavory habits such as smoking, heavy alcohol use or the use of hard drugs are also known to affect the testicular and ejaculatory function of men. So, also are the uses of certain medications and supplements, cancer treatment with certain chemotherapies, radiation and surgeries done to remove one or both testicles. Medical conditions, such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, some auto-immune disorders and certain infections can also cause testicular failure.
Hormonal disorders in men such as improper hypothalamus or pituitary glands functions may end up in low or no sperm production. So also, are conditions such as pituitary cancers, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, exposure to a lot of estrogen or testosterone, Cushing’s syndrome and prolonged use of glucocorticoids. Genetic causes such as Klinefelter’s syndrome, Y-chromosome micro-deletion, myotonic dystrophy and some other genetic disorders have also been inculpated in no or low sperm production.
The risk of male infertility is higher in men that are over 40 years old, obese and overweight, and in those smoking, excessively consuming alcohol, smoking marijuana, using testosterone, on irradiation treatment, exposing the testes to high temperatures. Some medications like spironolactone, cimetidine, ketoconazole, bicalutamide, glutamine or cyproterone and exposure to pesticides, mercury, lead or cadmium can also confer a risk of male infertility.
Since it is often cheaper and easier to investigate infertility in men than in a woman, men rather than women should be the first to be investigated when infertility is being suspected in a marriage. A semen analysis that determines the sperm volume, pH, sperm concentration, total sperm count, sperm velocity, linearity, color, and viscosity may be done. Also, this may be followed by a detailed sperm analysis to determine the viability, morphology, and motility of the sperm.
Some other tests like leukocytospermia quantitation/Endtz test, Kruger’s strict morphology classification, W.H.O morphology for sperm assessment, special staining for azoospermic specimen, semen biochemistry fructose test, sperm antibody tests (direct and indirect immunobead), reactive oxygen species and sperm DNA assessment may, in some instances, be also needed.
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Gladly enough, depending on causes, male infertility can be treated using many modern technologies and methods. This can be through medications such as hormone therapy that increase sperm count. This can also be through a change in lifestyle such as regularly exercising and eating healthy diets, and abstaining from smoking cigarettes and marijuana, drinking alcohol and not using illegal drugs. Surgeries can also be beneficial.
Other modern methods and technologies includes intracytoplasmic sperm injection that involves physical injection of a sperm into an egg. This potentially, allows 90% of all infertile males to have their own child. Also, of importance is in-vitro fertilization, which is the treatment of choice for male infertility.
In conclusion, male infertility can be prevented and treated as mentioned above. Also, for patients wanting a child and needing to go through cancer treatment, sperm banking is essential. In essence, all hope is not lost for a man that have issues with infertility, there are many treatment options that can increase chances of conception only if they can be humble enough to stop placing all the blames of infertility, solely on their wives by accepting that the faults could medically be theirs as well.
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