- In This Feature
- How Do You Obtain a Sample?
- How Are Samples Analyzed?
- What Other Sperm Tests Are Available?
- What Can Cause Abnormal Sperm Counts?
- What Treatment Options Are Available?
- What Is a Urologist Evaluation?
- How Does the Infertility Evaluation Proceed?
- When to Test His Fertility
- What Happens if We Still Have Trouble Conceiving?
What Treatment Options Are Available?
Certain infections, such as mumps contracted after puberty, have been shown to dramatically affect sperm counts. Others, such as the presence of white cells in the semen of a man who is otherwise asymptomatic, are less clear, but treatment is probably indicated and may result in some improvement. Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, are important. Prior treatment for cancer by surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy can also be significant.
There are ways to improve sperm counts, and we will detail those in the next few paragraphs. However, the treatment of male infertility and improvement of sperm counts has been a frustrating problem for both the patient and the physician for a long time.
The process of creating sperm is an extremely complex one that occurs over the course of about 70 days. Our understanding of this remarkable process is rudimentary, at best, and our ability to define where a problem exists and to correct it is almost nonexistent. Until recently, we could do nothing for many cases. Now, however, with the advent of laboratory techniques such as IVF and ICSI, we have the ability to take the most compromised of sperm samples and achieve fertilization in the laboratory.
Men with even just a few sperm can achieve pregnancy. The bottom line when it comes to treating male fertility is this: Much of the focus in the treatment of male infertility has shifted from trying to improve sperm production and quality to finding ways to work with whatever sperm are present.