Infertility issue among couples is no longer a secretive notion as approximately 15% of them experience fertility problems. Traditionally and due to several taboos in our society, male infertility has been thought of as a problem for women only. However, as observed in numerous samples, almost 30% of the infertility cases reported were due to the male partner alone and were somehow involved in infertility about half the time. It’s time to normalize the growing concern of male infertility and provide relevant information to resolve fertility problems in males whilst bursting various societal myths.
In this blog, we attempt to provide practical causes, diagnoses, and Ayurveda-backed treatments of male infertility.
Causes of male infertility:
In men, the ability to get a partner pregnant requires several different processes and hormones. Majorly, the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands are responsible for producing male sex hormones to the brain. Dysfunction or hindering complications in either or both of them can lead to the stoppage of fertilizing sperm and may impact the intensity of sperm count.
Following are the major causes of male infertility:
- Blockage of sperms passage
- Low sperm count or Oligospermia
- Functional Problems
- Hormonal Problems
Blockage of sperms passage
Sperms are made in testicles and require 2-10 days to pass through a series of small tubes called ‘Epididymis’ before being matured to exit from a larger tube called the ‘Vas Deferens’.
In this process, the vas deferens empty the sperm into the ejaculatory duct, where they are mixed with seminal fluid from the seminal vesicles and the prostate gland.
During ejaculation or intercourse, the muscular contractions from such glands force the semen into the urethra and make the sperm come out of the penis. Therefore, blockages or absence of tubes (including vas deferens) is a significant cause, as seen in one of every three cases of male infertility. It can also be due to some injury in tubes, better termed as ‘Vasectomy’.
High intoxication of alcohol and other drugs, smoking, and a lethargic lifestyle can be one crucial reason for deterring one’s sex life. The reduced physical activities and nutritious foods in the dietary schedule can lead to increased stress levels and lower production of male sex hormones (specifically testosterone).
Low sperm count or Oligospermia
It is considered that the issue of low sperm count or deficiency in sperm quality is caused due to genetic imbalances. Tiny fragments of the male chromosome may be missing in some men with sperm problems. This may be caused due to Absence of sperm (Azoospermia): It is the case when the semen doesn’t count the sperm. It may be caused due to the blockage or absence of the sperm-producing tubes in the testicles.
Abnormal sperm shape
It is a healthy sperm is shaped like a streamlined tadpole. Abnormally shaped sperm may have problems penetrating the surface of the woman’s egg. Poor Motility: A healthy streamlined sperm has a lashing tail that swims its way out through women’s reproductive glands. Having sperms with poor motility may reduce its ability to swim or stop it as a whole.
Functional problems that can cause or contribute to male fertility are as follows:
Impotence: The dysfunctional problems in the penis that hinders it from maintaining its erection during a sexual encounter Ejaculation problems: Either the semen falsely enters the bladder and not through the penis, or cases of premature ejaculation are observed.
Prostatectomy: The problem of penis dysfunction being observed post completion of removal of prostate glands
Formulation of antibodies: Although temporarily observed, the presence of a high number of antibodies in our immune system may affect the sperm’s ability to enter female reproductive glands.
The intensive levels of sperms secreted via male sex hormones are primarily regulated by a series of glands, the pituitary gland in the brain being a major one. The pituitary gland in the
The brain influences hormone production in the testicles under the guidance of the hypothalamus. This becomes the relatively uncommon cause of male infertility due to its failure to produce enough hormones.
Diagnosis of male infertility
Diagnosis of male infertility cases can be complexly difficult to examine and requires patience from both parties involved. It is usually related to the problem of sperm production or delivery. Diagnosis starts with the doctor attempting to know the prior history of the patient and further allocate appropriate tests. Following is a structural explanation:
Prior history and tests
In order to understand how your body works during intercourse, your doctor shall ask for a couple of health-related questions. These might include your childhood illness, current health disorders, intoxicating habits, or any other medication that might harm the production of sperm. Your health officer shall take some tests or physical exams as well to understand better the functionality of your sperm production mechanism in your penis, epididymis, vas deferens, and testicles.
Semen analysis is a regular laboratory test to examine male infertility, which attempts to find the intensity of sperm count and checks whether the sperm collected is functional or not for its motility and spearheaded shape. Such a report taken is usually formulated twice to provide results with ideal accuracy, given that the semen count was abnormal in the first. Semen analysis report depicts whether you are capable of conceiving (start a pregnancy) or not. The treatment prescribed post the analysis will vary on several ranges of sperm count levels, and even if the report shows no presence of semen, the treatment for the same is still applicable.
An ultrasound scan uses sound waves bouncing off an organ to depict its shape and functionality in male infertility cases. Your doctor may order an ultrasound scan over your rectum to observe if the sperm passages are blocked or not. The health care provider can see if the structures such as the ejaculatory duct or seminal vesicles are poorly formed or blocked.
Treatment of male infertility
Male infertility treatments specifically focus on improving sperm count, sperm motility, and its functional problems of premature ejaculation and erection dysfunction. In most cases, the male partner has enough semen count of conceiving with female partner’s egg in a test tube, and such couples are further assisted with Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART).
The treatment for male infertility varies from advancements in surgical methods to natural ways of Ayurveda, dietary beneficiaries, and impacting exercise.
In cases where the bloating of veins inside the testes (varicocele) is found, surgical methods are apt treatment measures to remove the sperm passage blockages. Such an obstruction in the transport system of the male reproductive system can be surgically removed, which might have been caused by an injury or vasectomy.
Although there hasn’t been much of a finding on whether a change in lifestyle might dramatically affect male infertility, there is no harm in discontinuing intoxication of alcohol, tobacco, and other injurious drugs. High stress and health disorders like high blood pressure and diabetes also threaten semen production counts. A prescribed balance of macro and micro foods in dietary schedules becomes equally important.
The evidence of the backing of Ayurveda for improving fertility problems dates back to 5000 B.C. Following are some of the recommended Ayurveda supplements, which are highly acknowledged by various scientists as well:
- Mucuna Pruriens (Kawach)
- Safed Musli
The physical endurance and the ability to practice a highly intense form of activities is a major aspect of improving sex life. Sexual intercourse and other inter-related intimacies are a type of physical activity only, and hence, it becomes crucially important to undertake measures for the same. Any form of cardio and bodyweight training can be immensely helpful.
Although any form of sporting plays will be equally entertained, however, it is advised to undertake some form of bodyweight training. It is so as any form of resistance applied to your body will release male hormones such as testosterone and will help in enhancing your sexual stamina and improve hormonal intensity. Also, it will strengthen your arms and abdominal muscles, which are actively involved in intercourse.
Male fertility is a common issue these days, and it’s high time we normalize the acceptance of such a growing concern in society. With the scientific development and the adequate backing of Ayurveda and yogic exercises, it is possible to cure any deficiency seen in semen production.
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