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Male Factor Infertility
ICSI and Semen Analysis in the Houston, Texas Area
Severe male factor infertility, once an impenetrable barrier to parenthood, has virtually ceased to exist due to breakthroughs in the field of fertility medicine. Advanced laboratory procedures such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and semen analysis, offered at Houston Infertility Institute in Texas, can help men overcome male factor infertility and realize their dream of fathering a child.
Causes of Male Factor Infertility
The most common cause of male factor infertility is low sperm count. Absence of sperm in the semen is less common, affecting only 1 percent of all men and 10 to 15 percent of infertile men. A semen analysis at our Houston, Texas area clinic can determine whether male infertility is caused by a low or absent sperm count.
Potential causes of sperm count problems include the following:
- Hormonal problems of the testicles or pituitary gland
- Testicular injury or failure, either present at birth (congenital) or associated with radiation or toxic chemical exposure
- Cancer treatment with certain kinds of chemotherapy or radiation
- Antibodies that attack sperm (Sperm antibodies sometimes develop in a man's semen when his sperm has been exposed to his immune system outside of the testicles. This may happen after a vasectomy, an infection, or an injury to the testicles.)
- Drug use (including some prescription medications, as well as marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol)
Structural problems, such as:
- A varicocele in the testicles
- Blocked ejaculation due to a surgical vasectomy
- Absence of a vas deferens (a birth defect that may be associated with the cystic fibrosis gene)
- Retrograde ejaculation (the ejaculation of semen into the bladder rather than out through the penis)
- Chromosomal problems (such as Klinefelter syndrome)
- Genetic problems
Other factors that may cause male infertility include:
- Excessive exercise (Studies have shown that exercising too much may lead to the release of high amounts of steroid hormones)
- Heat (from tight clothing, frequent bike riding, hot baths, or saunas)
- Exposure to toxins and environmental hazards (e.g. pesticides, lead, radiation, radioactive substances, mercury, and heavy metals)
If you are a male who is experiencing symptoms of infertility, the first thing you should do is see a specialist, typically a reproductive endocrinologist or an urologist. After a physical examination, the specialist will probably order a semen analysis, which will check the quality and quantity of the sperm in the semen. He or she will want you to give the sample in the office, since it is important that the analysis take place as soon as possible. Please remember, as self-conscious as you might feel, a semen analysis is a commonplace test, and the results could save you months of worry and stress.
If the first semen analysis is normal, your doctor may order a second test to confirm the results. Two normal tests usually indicate that you do not have any significant infertility problems. If something in the results appears irregular, your doctor might order further tests to pinpoint the problem.
Fig. 1 Sperm sample
There are a number of potential problems that a semen analysis at Houston Fertility Institute can detect. These include:
- Azoospermia (No sperm are produced, or the sperm aren't appearing in the semen)
- Oligospermia (Few sperm are produced)
- Problems with sperm motility (If sperm aren't moving normally, they are less likely to be capable of fertilizing an egg.)
- Problems with sperm morphology (Irregularities in the form and structure, or morphology, of the sperm may cause infertility.)
While one of these problems may be the direct reason that you and your partner cannot conceive, any of these complications may be caused by an underlying medical condition. A specialist at our Houston area center may investigate a case of male factor infertility further by ordering blood and urine tests or other procedures.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
In cases of male factor infertility in which sperm count is low, a sperm cannot fertilize an egg, or the sperm has to be surgically retrieved, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) at our Houston-area clinic can be a highly effective solution. ICSI involves the insertion of a single sperm directly into a mature egg obtained from the ovary of a woman undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Often, this procedure results in the fertilization and development of a normal embryo.
Contact the Male Infertility Experts at Our Houston-area Center
If you and your partner are having difficulty conceiving, contact Houston Fertility Institute to schedule an appointment with one of our fertility specialists. We offer a full range of diagnostic procedures and treatments, including ICSI and semen analysis, to help patients at our Houston, Texas-area practice surmount male factor infertility and other fertility obstacles.