What to Do If You're Infertile
Discovering that you have a fertility problem can be an earth-shattering revelation—men may find it difficult to even admit to being infertile, let alone discuss it.
But the issue is more common than you may think. As many as 1 in 8 couples have problems conceiving a child, and about 30 percent of those cases are due to male infertility.
However, thanks to modern science and medical breakthroughs, there are many options available to improve your chances.
Check for a varicocele
One of the most common reasons for low sperm count—and, as a result, male infertility—is a varicocele, which is basically an enlarged vein in the scrotum. It can raise the testicular temperature, and that in turn reduces sperm production.
While a varicocele usually does not cause infertility, about 40 percent of men who are infertile have one. Varicoceles typically don’t exhibit any symptoms and you may very well not know you have one unless it’s uncovered during an examination. The good news is that varicoceles can be easily treated.
One method is a procedure known as catheter-directed embolization. This involves the insertion of a catheter into the femoral vein and then through to the testicular vein. A doctor injects contrast dye into the catheter to show where the varicocele needs to be blocked, or embolized. A balloon, coil or other instrument is used to reduce blood flow to the varicocele and redirect it to other vessels.
Another method of treating a varicocele involves a microsurgical varicocelectomy, in which the surgeon makes a small incision just above the scrotum, cuts down the affected vein, and then ties it off using sutures.
Find treatments and make adjustments
If your fertility problems are not a result of a varicocele, your doctor will suggest an alternate path forward starting with an examination of your hormone levels. If you have a hormonal issue, such as a lack of testosterone, certain medications, including clomiphene, anastrozole, or human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) may help boost your sperm production.
Lifestyle changes can also improve fertility. For example, reducing or eliminating tobacco and alcohol can have significant effects. Men who smoke are significantly more likely to experience not only lower sperm counts, but also a decrease in sperm motility, or movement. Sperm may also be abnormally shaped. Men who have more than 25 alcoholic beverages a week have been shown to have poorer sperm quality than men who have five or fewer alcoholic drinks per week.
The Mediterranean diet, which includes whole grains, vegetables, healthy fats (such as olive oil), and fatty fish, is recommended to improve sperm quality. However, other well-balanced diets that focus on limiting unhealthy fats may also improve your sperm quality.
Consider adding multivitamins to your daily regimen so your body receives all the key nutrients needed to function optimally, but make sure you consult with your doctor first, especially if you already take other supplements and prescription medications.
Sex is good for you
Here’s something you can do to overcome fertility issues and it’s actually fun.
If you have sex more often—specifically, at least once a day for four days before your partner starts to ovulate—you may increase the chances of a pregnancy. Sperm can live for many days at a time, so there’s a good chance they’ll all be present during the time when conception can occur. Try to avoid using any artificial lubricants, which, along with saliva, can keep sperm from moving and functioning the way they should.
If you’ve been diagnosed with male infertility, your first reaction should not be anger. No matter how bad you may feel, remember that the diagnosis is simply an indication that you need to seek treatment and perhaps change your lifestyle. Use your excitement of eventually conceiving a child to overshadow any initial personal feelings of disappointment.