Infertility: Male Factor

With infertility affecting nearly 1 in every 4 couples, you might be surprised to know that 30% of all infertility cases is due to male factors. This means that there are one or more issues with sperm production.  The concern is not only about how many sperm there are, or how fast the sperm swim, but whether they can fertilize the female's eggs.

There are varying reasons that cause male factor infertility: imbalance in hormone levels, abnormal sperm/semen, azoospermia (no sperm), low sperm count, low motility, vericoceles, and also unknown.

A few terms that are essential to understanding male factor infertility:

Sperm Count: Low sperm count, or oligospermia, is a common cause of male infertility.
Motility:describes the ability of sperm to move properly towards an egg.
Morphology: Sperm morphology indicates the percentage of sperm that appear normal when semen is viewed under a microscope.
Varicocele: A varicocele is a condition in which abnormalities in the varicose veins of the spermatic cords are present. These problems can cause blockage of blood flow as well as over-dilation of the veins.

Now that you know some of the "official" words and meanings of male factor infertility, I want to share with you the more emotional side. People easily forget that when you have terms and statistics thrown at you, that it can be very overwhelming emotionally. I can personally tell you that it is a tough journey, but having the right support systems, information and outlets are very important. With permission from my husband, I can tell you that it was very stressful and painful for him to get the diagnosis. Men tend to internalize and not ask for help as much as women. And we were the text book example-couple of this. My husband withdrew, became uncommunicative, and it was very difficult on our relationship. I made the decision to seek counseling for my personal health, and my husband eventually joined me, when he saw how much it was helping me. I am so thankful we did this--as it made a huge difference. I know counseling is not the answer for everyone, so I encourage any couple going through any type of infertility treatment to find an outlet. 

Another outlet that I felt comfortable with was blogging. Again, I discussed this with my husband, as I knew the primary talk on MY blog would be HIS sperm! He agreed it would be a good place to connect to others going through something similar. We remain anonymous, and are not passing out business cards at parties with my blog address written all over it, but I have been able to meet and connect with amazing people through blogging. I was also able to share our male factor story with the readers of Redbook Magazine for their Infertility Diaries.

If you are interested in blogging as an outlet source for what you and your partner are going through, I encourage you to browse the blogging community. Please feel free to contact me at Reproductive Jeans

Resolve gives an accurate description of the emotional effects of infertility as well:
Infertility is a major life crisis for 1 in 8 couples. For these women and men fighting the disease of infertility, the infertility experience involves many hidden losses for the individuals, their loved ones and society as a whole, including:
  • Loss of the pregnancy and the birth experience;
  • Loss of a genetic legacy and loss of future contributing citizens to the next generation;
  • Loss of the parenting experience;
  • Loss of a grandparent relationship;
  • Low feelings of self-worth;
  • Loss of stability in family and personal relationships;
  • Loss of work productivity; and
  • Loss of a sense of spirituality and sense of hope for the future.
Because infertility often involves major personal life issues and decisions, it is often experienced as a private matter and is not ordinarily discussed in public forums. The personal nature of the infertility experience contributes to the failure of the public, politicians, healthcare professionals and the media to recognize infertility as a disease. This causes a lack of sound knowledge and available resources about infertility.

Infertility has a strong impact on self-esteem. Suddenly your life, which may have been well-planned and successful, seems out-of-control. Not only is your physical body not responding as expected but it feels as if your entire life is on hold. Facing the disappointment of not becoming pregnant month after month can lead to depression for both you and your spouse.