Is it from the man?know important facts about male infertility
By Talha Soluoku
The process of giving birth has been overlooked over time by most as a normalcy, but recently the case of infertility is at an all-time high rate, for every couple, infertility problems could either be from the man or woman although only 1 in 7 cases results from male infertility .
1 in every 100 infertile male has problem with sperm production while 1 in 20 males that produce sperm have low sperm count.
The peculiarity of male infertility and infertility in general is that unlike most medical conditions, it is relatively asymptomatic, there are no obvious signs to show if a man is infertile, in fact the whole sexual process would look and feel normal, assertion of infertility in males can only be done through analysis in the medical laboratory.
How sperm is formed
Sperm is produced in the testis and this process is stimulated and regulated by the anterior pituitary gland and hypothalamus in the brain, the hypothalamus secrete gonadotropin releasing hormone which act on the anterior pituitary to secrete luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone, these two hormones are the major modulators for the reproductive system, they act on the testis, LH acts on the leydig cells to secrete testosterone which is needed for the production of sperm.
The testicles are located in the scrotal sac, they need to be kept at a lower temperature for optimal functioning and that is why the scrotum lies outside the body away from the core body temperature.
Spermatogenesis begins at puberty although premature sperm cells (spermatogonia) have been present and dormant since birth, at puberty they are activated and begin to divide and increase in number.
Production of sperm and maturation takes approximately 70 days. Then they are stored in the epididymis for a while where they develop the ability to swim and become motile.
In addition to the sperm cells there are several gland cells that make up the reproductive system, these cells secrete several substance that make up the semen, these secretions are responsible for providing nutrients for the sperm cell, protecting it and providing a medium in which sperm can swim in giving it buoyancy it needs for propulsion to the egg.
Cause of infertility
Male infertility can be caused by several anomalies broadly grouped into:
-Primary male infertility
-Secondary male infertility
Primary infertility is related to semen deficiency and all problems causing or associated with the inability to produce adequate and normal sperm cells.
While secondary infertility are problems that are related to the effective release and transportation of the sperm to their final site of action where they are supposed to fertilize the egg.
About 66% of male infertility is as a result of sperm production problems (primary infertility) while one is every five males with infertility have problems with sperm transportation to the egg for fertilization.
Infertility could result from hormonal imbalance either at the hypothalamus, pituitary or testicular level.
Autoimmune disorders that cause production of antibodies that destroy sperm cells have also being implicated in male infertility.
Sperm production disorders
It can be caused by several factors among which are;
· Chromosomal or genetic defects which result in production of abnormal sperms that cannot fertilize an egg.
· Autoimmune diseases that result in production of substances (antibodies) that destroy sperm cells.
· Undescended testis: failure of the testis to descend from the abdomen before or after birth would disrupt the spermatogenesis process.
· Infections in the testis could also destroy the already produced sperm cells.
· Side effect of some drugs.
· Tobacco smoking.
· Exposure to radiation.
· Chemotherapy and also.
· Extreme heat.
Exposure to one or more of these could cause infertility, either by preventing the production of normal sperm cells or destroying the ones already produced.
Disorders of sperm transportation
This could be an aftermath of infections affecting the transport ducts, vas deferens, and the urethra, they make the produced unable to get to their destination, blockage or surgical removal of the vas deferens (vasectomy) also create transportation problems.
Injuries to reproductive organs or the spinal cord hinder sexual activities, erectile dysfunction is also a potent inhibition to fertilization and it could be traced to both neural and hormonal causes,the former could be from nerve damage or psychological issues while the latter is caused by defects, atrophy or dystrophy of the glands associated with reproduction.
Other causes of male infertility could be traced to the use and abuse of anabolic steroid that cause an imbalance in the body’s sexual hormones, absence or reduced secretion of luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormones can ensue.
Infections from sexually transmitted diseases also affect fertility, varicoele or enlarged veins that cause obstruction of blood supply to the developing testis affects sperm production. Diabetes, high blood cholesterol level are important factors that can affect erection and cause premature ejaculation.
Retrograde ejaculation could be the problem, here the ejaculated semen flows into the bladder instead of coming out from the penis.
Preventive and precautionary actions for males
· Young men are advised to cut down or avoid tobacco smoking, steroid abuse, marijuana, and alcohol intake.
· Avoid sitting on hot surfaces, exposing the scrotum to heat can destroy cells involved in reproduction.
· Protective covering like jockstrap should be used for the genital area when engaged in intense sports like riding, racing, cycling, rowing or any form of martial arts.
· Factory workers that are prone to radiation should put on protective gears and cover to reduce risk of exposure.
· Cautious use of medications to avoid those that have spermicidal side effect.
· Treating the underlying problems like infections, hormonal imbalance and autoimmune diseases.
· Stopping all medications that affect sperm production.
· Lifestyle modifications like quitting alcohol, cigarette, and steroid abuse.
· Infertility associated with sperm production can be dealt with using assisted reproductive techniques (ART). In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a technique used to take good sperm cell samples and inject them directly into the egg, it’s also effective for males with low sperm count.
· Surgeries to reconnect blocked ducts could be the option for infertility resulting from transport of semen.
· Sometimes inability to conceive can result from lack of adequate sexual exposure, especially for couples that are not living together, couples that are desirous of pregnancy should have unprotected sexual intercourse at least thrice in a week.