Infertility Can Affect Men, Too

New fertility techniques can help men with a low sperm count father a child, according to Colleen Wagner Coughlin, aParent IVF

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Although infertility is most commonly discussed as a woman’s issue, it’s important not to discount a man’s contribution to the act of conception. “About one third of infertility issues are attributable to women, but another third are attributable to men, and a third link back to both partners,” says Colleen Wagner Coughlin, Laboratory Director and Founder of aParent IVF.

The most common reason that men aren’t able to get a woman pregnant is a low sperm count, or even no sperm in their ejaculate; the latter condition is called azoospermia. In these cases, a semen analysis test is performed to evaluate the quality of the sperm and how mobile they are. (Sperm usually move very fast in their efforts to swim upstream through a woman’s reproductive tract and fertilize an egg in her fallopian tubes. The sperm must also be strong enough to burrow through an egg’s outer protective gel-like layer to get inside and fertilize the egg.)

Many medical conditions can impact a man’s fertility, from cystic fibrosis to an undescended testicle, genetic abnormalities, cancer, past or current infections, and some chronic illnesses (not to mention use of certain medications). Injury to the scrotum and testicles is a big factor—situations that lead to overheating the testicles (for instance, holding a hot laptop computer on the lap where it can touch the testes) or riding a bike or horse for prolonged periods of time on a hard seat are often cited as problematic. Lifestyle practices, such as smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol to excess, or using illicit drugs can also impair male fertility, as can being overweight or obese.

If a woman and her partner haven’t gotten pregnant after a year of unprotected intercourse, it’s time to see a fertility doctor for testing and counseling. Just like women, men’s sperm and fertility decline with age, so after age 35, it’s recommended that couples seek help after just 6 months of trying.

“In men with a low sperm count, specially trained Urologists can often recover a small amount of sperm from the testicles using a technique called testicular sperm extraction,” explains Coughlin. In the IVF laboratory, embryologists can filter out dead sperm and debris in the semen and retrieve a single live sperm to fertilize a single egg using intracytoplastic sperm injection (ICSI). The fertilized egg is then transferred into a woman’s uterus. A technique invented in 1993, “ICSI has completely changed the treatment of male infertility,” she says. “It makes it possible for men with few or non-swimming sperm to father children.” Success rates are around 70%-80% for fertilization with ICSI.

aParent IVF Laboratory has been turning patients into parents for over 30 years and has helped men and women conceive over 30,000 babies! For more information on ICSI and other services, visit: