The male role in contraception has been thought of as relatively simple, when in fact, it is actually quite complicated. The Mayo Clinic estimates that 15% of couples are infertile (frequent , unprotected sex of childbearing age with no pregnancy in one year). Research estimates show that 7.5-10% of all males of reproductive age are infertile. Male infertility is a major cause of no conception in 50% of childless couples. Male infertility can be defined as abnormalities in sperm production, maturity or delivery that impedes the establishment of pregnancy.
The male reproductive cycle involves testosterone secretion that is the common link between the pituitary gland and the testes. To achieve a pregnancy from the male component the following is needed: 1) healthy sperm 2) enough sperm is carried to the semen 3) the sperm is correctly shaped for motility and 4) no ejaculation problems. Causes for male infertility include varioceles (swelling of veins that drain the testes-42%), obstruction, infection, chromosome abnormalities, hormone imbalances, tumors, ejaculation problems, anti-sperm antibodies, sperm duct defects, some chronic diseases, environmental causes (exposures) and lifestyle causes (weight, stress, smoking and drug use). Male infertility evaluation often includes a semen analysis, an extensive medical history, a physical exam, lab testing and ultrasound examination.
Treatment of male infertility usually focuses on correction of the underlying problem or using treatments to help with the infertility. Possible treatments include: surgery, medications and assisted reproductive technologies such as sperm retrieval, sperm donation and cryopreservation. The process of identifying and treating male infertility can be stressful for the individual and couple. Costs can be high and this treatment is typically not covered by health insurance. The outcome is often unknown for some time period and stress can be high. There are many coping strategies and support groups for psychosocial support.
In this segment, Dr. Michael Witt, a board certified urologist and male infertility specialist (one of the few in the southeast) will discuss the a general overview of male infertility. Listeners can visit: www.rba-online.com and www.resolve.org for more information.
Dr. Michael Witt
- MD obtained from Oregon Health Science University
- Completed residency in urology at Boston University Hospital
- Fellowship in male infertility completed at Baylor College of Medicine in TX
- Board-certified in urology
- Featured on CNN, The Learning Channel, named one of Atlanta’s Top Doctors
- Now in private practice at Reproductive Biology Associates in Atlanta