Infertility Treatments for Men

Men suffer from infertility just as women do. The good news is that often male infertility can be treated through surgical, medical therapy or assisted reproductive technologies. Surgical or medical treatment will typically improve semen quality in approximately three months after treatment begins. Deciding on the type of treatment is determined by financial constraints, the couple's long-term goals and any issues with the female partner's fertility.

Reversing Imbalances

Male infertility can be caused by endocrine, chemical or infectious imbalances that can be fixed through specific therapy. Specific treatment varies between conditions and has a high success rate because the treatment is tailored to fix well-defined problems. One example of reversing imbalances where specific therapy is used include replacing follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) - the pituitary hormones - that have been damaged by pituitary disease or radiation. Another example is testosterone treatments for men with hypoandrogenic hypogonadism.

Empiric Therapy

If the condition of infertility is unclear or undefined, empiric therapy may be used. They tend to have limited success rates because the affects of the treatments are often counteracted by the body. For example, a medication to treat low sperm density or mobility provides the body with more of a hormone it already has and may not make a difference in fertility.

Sperm Extraction

Sperm extraction is a fertility treatment where the sperm is removed from the body. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is necessary for conception and pregnancy. With some IVF treatments all that's needed is a single viable sperm. Even men who have no sperm in their ejaculate can receive treatment where a sperm is suctioned from the male reproductive tract in a process called sperm aspiration. A minor surgical procedure is performed and any sperm extracted has a viability rate of 60 to 70 percent.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

This assisted reproductive technology was first used successfully in 1994 and involves skilled maneuvering to collect a single live sperm from semen samples and inject it directly into an egg. The female partner needs to take fertility medication to stimulate her ovaries and increase egg production. The eggs are removed and incubated. Collected sperm is spun through a special medium which separates any live sperm from the dead sperm and debris. The live sperm is picked up with a glass needle and injected into the egg.

Testes Mapping

Men with infertility often have inconsistent sperm production meaning that different areas of the testes produce different levels of sperm. Testes mapping, a process first proposed in 1997, samples more areas of the testicles to look for sperm. The theory behind mapping is that it offers a higher chance of discovering usable sperm. Mapping also helps couples decide whether or not they believe IVF will be a viable option for them.