Starting a family with a partner that you love is one of the most magical and exciting experiences that you will ever encounter. It is also daunting and very intimidating, but ultimately, becoming a parent will change you for the better. Sadly, not every couple can start a family, particularly when there are infertility issues involved. Male infertility, for example, is a lot more common than people tend to realize, and it can put an enormous strain on his relationship with his partner as well. The positive news in this instance is the fact that male infertility can be treated and addressed in a whole variety of different ways. Ranging from simple changes to lifestyle to more elaborate measures such as hormone therapy, male infertility can be treated, prevented, and reversed in some cases. That’s why today, we’re going to be looking at hormone therapy for male infertility.
What is male infertility?
As you have probably figured out from the name, male infertility is where a male is rendered infertile and unable to conceive children. Male infertility can be attributed to a wide variety of different things, which we will address later. The condition manifests itself, however, in the form of the male failing to produce adequate volumes of high-quality sperm, which would be required for conception to take place.
What are the primary causes of male infertility?
Male infertility can be caused by a variety of different things, as there are countless environmental factors that could play a key role in the suppressed production of quality sperm. More often than not, however, the problem can be traced to the testes. Experts estimate that out of all of the cases of male infertility out there, around 40% of these cases are due to problems within the testes. You see, the testes are the glands responsible for producing testosterone, which is the primary male sex hormone, and sperm. You may know the testes being more commonly referred to as testicles. Now, damage to the testes can be attributed to a variety of different factors, and it depends on the individual circumstances. As an example, damage to the testes could be due to an illness or infection such as mumps. Treatments for diseases such as cancer can also affect a man’s fertility levels, as chemotherapy and radiotherapy have both been found to reduce a male’s levels of fertility greatly. Even trauma to the tests, in the form of an accident or sporting-based, could result in infertility.
One of the most common issues relating to infertility, however, is exposure to excess levels of heat. Heat has been found to damage the testes and affects fertility and to negatively influence sperm production. Heat damage to the testes can be caused in a variety of different ways. If both, or even just one, of the testicles fails to descend properly, they may become heat damaged. The reason why the testicles are located outside the body, and why they hang a couple of inches lower is so that they can be kept slightly cooler. Veins located around the testes are known as varicocele veins, and if they are enlarged too much, they may raise the temperature of the testes slightly, resulting in issues connected to infertility.
Even something as seemingly trivial as taking overly hot showers or baths can cause problems, as can frequent use of hot tubs, steam rooms, or saunas. Another common cause of male infertility is a blockage located within the vas deferens. The vas deferens is a collective term given to the tubes that sperm travels down from the testes to the penis.
Evaluating and diagnosing male infertility
As with any medical conditions, before you can look into possible treatment options, the first thing you need to do is receive a trusted diagnosis. If you’re struggling to conceive with your partner, infertility could be the problem. Remember, it isn’t always easy to conceive, and sometimes it can take months, years even before conception takes place. If however, you and your partner have been actively trying to conceive for a year or more, it may be time to speak to the medical experts in an attempt to get to the bottom of what the cause may be. If you speak to your doctor, they will then refer you to a fertility specialist, a urologist, or a reproductive endocrinologist. These individuals are extremely well trained when it comes to fertility issues in both men and women, so you can rest assured that you will be in very safe hands.
Initially, it is likely that your medical history will be examined, where the specialist will attempt to find out about your development as a youth, and whether or not you may have experienced any previous medical issues or have undergone surgeries in the past, which may have led to complications. Once this has all been covered, your doctor will then perform a physical examination of you, where they will look for signs of anything untoward which could be affecting your fertility.
A missing testicle, a damaged testicle, or low levels of testosterone could all be likely culprits of lack of fertility. Several sperm tests will also be conducted whereby the specialist will examine the volume and quality of your sperm to look into sperm mobility, quantities, and shapes of the sperm. Finally, a blood test will be carried out to look into the possibility of hormone deficiencies.
How is male infertility treated?
The good news is that, if the tests conducted on you do indeed determine that you may be suffering from fertility issues, there are some treatment options available to you, that you could investigate. Hormone therapy is very effective, and it is this which we will be covering in great detail a little further on. Before we get to that, however, we need to look at a few other potential treatments for male infertility.
Surgery – In the event of the infertility being related to issues with the Vas Deferens (the duct that conveys sperm from the testicle to the urethra), undergoing surgery can very effectively help to repair a blockage located within the sperm transportation system. A vasectomy can be surgically reversed, though it is important to note that many men will remain infertile even after having the vasectomy reversed, so that is worth considering.
Lifestyle changes – Sometimes, when it comes to male infertility, all that is required is some noticeable lifestyle changes. Leading a healthy lifestyle has been proven to help improve fertility in a wide-range of men of varying ages, shapes, and sizes. Eating healthy produce, drinking water, exercising, and cutting out unhealthy habits like smoking and binge-drinking can all work very effectively at helping to improve a man’s fertility.
Exercise, in particular, is useful as it helps to stimulate the production and secretion of testosterone. Low testosterone levels can lead to fertility issues in men, so exercise is very useful. Resistance training with weights is particularly effective, as this has been found to stimulate testosterone production following a workout.
You should also try not to have overly hot showers or baths, and if you do use a hot tub, sauna, or steam room, try to cut way back on your usage. Otherwise, the heat your testes are exposed to, can result in infertility. Wear loose fitting boxer shorts and trousers, and avoid tight and restrictive clothing that may put excessive pressure upon your testicles and genitalia in general.
Hormone therapy for male infertility
Now it’s time for us to get to the good stuff, as we’re now going to be looking at hormone therapy for male infertility. There are you see, some fertility drugs currently available which can be utilized by men looking to enhance their fertility levels. When women undergo hormone therapy treatments for infertility, there is a far greater chance of failure because per menstrual cycle, she will only release one egg. With men, however, there is a continual process of sperm production going on, so hormone therapy options are far more likely to yield success. A couple of the more popular hormone therapy options for treating male infertility include the following:
Aromatase Inhibitors (AIs) – Nope, we’re not talking about artificial intelligence, we are instead talking about Aromatase Inhibitors. If a male happens to be dealing with fertility issues which are not related to any blockage or obstruction of the Vas Deferens, Aromatase Inhibitors may be utilized. AIs are utilized to address imbalances regarding testosterone and Estrogen. Excess Estrogen in the body, for example, can have a negative effect on testosterone production.
Testosterone is the dominant male sexual health hormone which is responsible for some things, including libido, sperm volume, and even sperm mobility and quantity. The more testosterone you have in your system, the less likely you will be to suffer from infertility. When testosterone aromatizes, it is converted by the body to estrogen. Estrogen in men can tell the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus to decrease signals sent to the testicles. This, in turn, reduces the amount of Lutenizing sing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which both play very important roles in the production of healthy sperm. As if that wasn’t enough, excess estrogen in the body has also been found to inhibit the production of sperm, which is done via a process known as spermatogenesis. AIs function by preventing testosterone and other androgens (sex hormones) from aromatizing and being converted into Estrogen. Anastrozole is a very common AI utilized very effectively for treating and preventing male infertility.
HCG – HCG stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, and it is a natural hormone that has been found to mimic the effects of Luteinising Hormone in males. LH plays a vital role in the synthesizes and secretion of testosterone. When HCG is utilized to treat male infertility, it gets to work on mimicking the effects of LH. This, in turn, means that it stimulates the natural production of testosterone from within the testes. A typical course of hormone therapy coming in the form of HCG will last 100 days. During these 100 days, HCG will be administered via an injection, three times per week. After the 100 days are up, testosterone levels will be tested, as will overall sperm quality, quantities, and mobility. Best of all is the fact that HCG is incredibly safe, so during the treatment, the male in question will likely not suffer from any adverse side effects at all. HCG can also be used in combination with commercial products containing FSH for extra efficacy.
Clomiphene Citrate – Clomiphene Citrate is another natural hormone which helps to stimulate the pituitary gland located within the brain. The pituitary gland is responsible for the production and secretion of FSH. FSH is another hormone that plays a vital role in a person’s development, growth, pubertal maturation, and of course, reproductive and fertility processes. Clomiphene Citrate stimulates the pituitary gland into producing and secreting more FSH than usual. FSH stimulates spermatogenesis, which means that it helps to produce more healthy sperm cells.
A treatment period will last for 100 days and will require 25mg of Clomiphene Citrate to be administered every other day. Once the 100 days are up, experts will conduct reproductive tests, will analyze sperm health, mobility, volume, etc., and will measure the amounts of other hormones such as LH, testosterone, and FSH. Based on what the experts find, the process may then be repeated once more. There are only minor side effects associated with Clomiphene Citrate, including hot flushes, dry mouth, slight headache, minor fluctuations in mood.