There are many factors which can lead to sperm problems and male infertility, including childhood diseases (like the mumps), previous surgery or injury, diseases like diabetes, drug or alcohol abuse, sexually transmitted infections, environmental factors, congenital or genetic problems, and hormonal factors.
The semen analysis is one of the most important tests conducted during the infertility evaluation and it can identify many sperm disorders that can lead to male factor infertility. As part of the initial assessment, all male patients at NewLife Fertility Centre are asked to provide a sperm sample for semen analysis. The sample will be evaluated for the quantity of sperm, the viscosity of the ejaculate, the shape of the sperm (morphology), an evaluation of how the sperm swim (motility), and many other characteristics. The sperm sample can be provided at home and driven to the laboratory within 45 minutes, or it can be provided in one of our private, comfortable collection rooms. This test should be done after three to five days of abstinence to yield the most accurate results.
According to the semen analysis results, further testing may be requested. This may require another sperm sample to be provided a few weeks later, for either a repeat analysis or specialized sperm tests like DNA fragmentation, antibody tests, or strict morphology. A scrotal or testicular ultrasound or hormonal blood tests may also be advised.
Couples with infertility caused by disorders of sperm number or function may achieve success with intrauterine insemination (IUI) or IVF. This is often performed during cycles in which the woman is taking fertility drugs to stimulate multiple egg development. IVF is the best treatment option for couples when there is severe impairment of sperm count, motility, or shape, or when sperm antibodies are present. The laboratory technique of Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) has revolutionized the way we can treat male infertility. Even men with no sperm in their semen can father a pregnancy if the urologist is able to extract sperm from the man’s epididymis or testicle for use in IVF. The presence of a varicocele (an abnormal enlargement of the vein that is in the scrotum draining the testicles) may also be a factor and surgical intervention can be discussed as an option with the doctor.