Male Reproduction 101

Fertility specialist Dr. James Douglas shares insights on male reproduction.

Although infertility is often thought of as a “woman’s issue,” the male factor is estimated to be significant in 40-50 percent of couples experiencing infertility. In spite of that statistic, it is estimated that only 20 percent of men in couples struggling to conceive come forward for testing early on or at all.

It is crucial for men to get tested for fertility as well as women. Discovering male fertility problems can result in earlier treatment and a successful pregnancy.

How to Determine when to Visit a Fertility Specialist

As a general rule, couples under the age of 35 who have not become pregnant after trying for 12 months should seek care from a fertility specialist. Couples 35 or older should only wait 6 months, but couples with a known, pre-existing condition should consult a fertility specialist right away. Anyone who is concerned about fertility or is unsure about reproductive health is encouraged to make an appointment.

Dr. Douglas sees both women and couples at IVF Plano. When a couple is having trouble conceiving, both partners are encouraged to come to the initial office visit to share medical history and discuss fertility treatment options.

Fertility tests to determine causes of male infertility include evaluation of sperm count, sperm quality, and sperm movement. Additional reasons for male infertility include physical problems preventing sperm from being ejaculated normally in semen. Some red flags that Dr. Douglas will watch for:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases STDs
  • Prior or current infections
  • Autoimmune problems
  • Anabolic steroid use
  • Alcohol and drug abuse

If male conditions exist outside our field of treatment at IVF Plano, we will refer the patient to a Plano-area urologist, or the appropriate specialist.

The Role Hormones Play in Male Infertility

Although it may seem like a contradiction, libido-enhancing treatments could actually decrease male fertility. If you are trying to conceive and are considering or currently taking treatment designed to increase libido or testosterone, be sure to discuss any treatments with your fertility specialist.

In addition, lifestyle and age are often contributing factors to decreased fertility in men. Although a man will continue to produce sperm throughout his lifetime, age can negatively affect male fertility.

Lifestyle factors that can decrease male fertility, and lower sperm count and quality, include:

  • Consuming large amounts of alcohol.
  • Smoking cigarettes.
  • Taking illegal drugs.
  • Ongoing exposure to certain chemicals such as pesticides, chemical fertilizers, petrochemicals and radiation.

Contact Dr. Douglas at IVF Plano if you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or concerns regarding female or male infertility.