Male factor infertility can have many causes. Fortunately, there are treatments available and many couples with male infertility are able to conceive after treatment.
Insurance coverage for infertility treatment varies greatly. The cost to you depends on how much is covered by your insurance plan. When it comes to assisted reproductive technologies (ART), a successful pregnancy may need repeated attempts. This can lead to significant out-of-pocket expense.
Talk to your partner and your doctor about how much you want to spend on getting pregnant. This can affect your choice of treatment.
Sometimes problems with conception start with sexual problems. If men have trouble with intercourse, there are few or no opportunities for their partners to get pregnant. Behavioral therapy can be combined with medication to treat:
- erectile dysfunction
- premature ejaculation
- other sexual problems
Surgery can be used to repair blocked sperm ducts. It may also be able to correct other physical problems in the reproductive tract, such as a varicocele.
Surgery may also be used to retrieve sperm for ART.
ART can be used to help couples with more severe, or longer lasting, infertility. Where male infertility is a factor, this may involve surgical retrieval of sperm. Retrieved sperm can then be used to fertilize eggs more directly than occurs during intercourse. Options for ART include:
- in vitro fertilization (IVF)–sperm and egg are mixed together outside the body. Fertilized embryos are then implanted in the uterus.
- intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)–a type of IVF where sperm are injected directly into eggs. ICSI is often used for men who have very low sperm counts or damaged sperm.
- gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT)–a procedure where sperm and retrieved eggs are mixed together and put into the fallopian tubes. GIFT is not commonly used.
ART can also be performed with ejaculated sperm or donor sperm.
Using donor sperm can be very stressful for some men. It is a good idea to discuss your concerns with your partner. Some doctors require counseling for any couple or individual using donated gametes.
Medical problems that cause infertility may be treatable with medication.
Antibiotics can be used to treat infections. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and infections of the prostate and/or testes may affect sperm count. Untreated infections may also lead to blockages.
Hormone imbalances can affect sperm count. These may be treatable with hormone therapy or other medication.
Environmental and lifestyle factors can decrease fertility. Talk to your doctor about potential risk factors, such as:
- tobacco use
- exposure to toxins at work or home
- alcohol or drug use
Behavioral therapy may be able to help you improve your fertility and overall health. Other simple solutions may include:
- not using a laptop directly on your lap
- staying out of hot tubs and saunas
- wearing loose fitting underwear
These suggestions are designed to keep your testicles cooler. Warm testicles are associated with decreased sperm production.