Male Factor Infertility: When It's All About the Sperm
Infertility's root of the problem is typically found in either the male reproductive system or the female reproductive system since it takes one cell from each to produce an embryo and subsequently a baby. Most commonly, there's something going on in both the male and the female that can be helped with fertility treatment.
Male Infertility – All About the Sperm
With the male, it's stated that it's all about the sperm. And if it's all about the sperm, it's probably a good idea to know a bit more about where they come from. In other words, the male reproductive system. Here are a few medical based definitions of fairly common terms that most of us don't know or even hear until there's some reason to- like infertility.
Consider this a Male Reproductive System 102. Refer back to Male Reproductive System 101.
Male Factor Infertility Facts
Epididymis: Portion of the male genital tract next to the testis where sperm maturation is partially accomplished. Receives sperm from the testis and continues as the ductus (vas) deferens.
Male Factor Infertility: 30-40% of infertility is a result of problems with sperm production or motility. Sometimes there is blockage of release of sperm. Male factor infertility is most often treated with IUI or IVF and referral to a specially trained urologist.
Retrograde Ejaculation: A condition that occurs when, at orgasm, the ejaculate (sperm and semen) is forced backward into the bladder rather than through the urethra and out the end of the penis.
Semen: The fluid containing sperm (the male reproductive cells) that is expelled (ejaculated) through the end of the penis when the man reaches sexual climax (orgasm).
Sperm: The male reproductive cells. With ART (assisted reproductive technology), there are methods so that very few sperm are actually needed to produce embryos.
Sperm Antibody Test: In some couples blood, semen and/or cervical mucus contain substances which hinder sperm action through an allergic or immune reaction.
Spermatogenesis: The process of producing sperm, the male reproductive cells.
Testosterone: The male hormone that is essential for sperm production and the development of male characteristics, including muscle mass and strength, fat distribution, bone mass, facial hair growth, voice change, and sex drive.
Urologist: The type of doctor who is specially trained to treat problems of the male and female urinary system and the male sex organs.
Undescended Testicle: A condition in which the testicles do not descend from the abdomen, where they are located during development, to the scrotum shortly before birth. Also called cryptorchidism.
Vas deferens: The long, muscular tube that travels from the epididymis into the pelvic cavity, to just behind a man's urinary bladder. The vas deferens transports mature sperm to the urethra in preparation for ejaculation.
Varicocele: A varicose vein around the ductus (vas) deferens and the testes. This may be a cause of low sperm counts, motility and morphology and lead to male infertility.
It's all about the sperm AND it's all about the male reproductive system that produces them.
Questions? Ask away in the comments or ask us here. We're happy to find the answers for you.
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.