After a woman's age, male infertility is the second biggest cause of pregnancy delay and affects almost half of all couples having trouble conceiving. Fortunately most common causes of male infertility are easily diagnosed and most can be treated or overcome to help a couple conceive.
To understand if male fertility is a factor in why you and your partner are having trouble conceiving, we encourage you to get tested. A semen analysis can help quickly narrow down the problem, and potentially spare your partner unnecessary discomfort.
Diet and lifestyle factors as well as some medical conditions can affect the quality of sperm. The lifecycle of sperm is about 72 days, so with a few simple changes many men can improve their sperm health within just a few months.
Diet and lifestyle tips for men trying to conceive
It's a good idea to consult your GP early if you have any past medical conditions that may have an impact on fertility such as an undescended testes, hernia, STD or severe trauma. Acute viral illness can also temporarily affect sperm health.
Answer a few quick questions about your lifestyle and medical history to get an indication of your sperm quality. Start here >
Male infertility is caused by problems that affect sperm production or the transport process such as:
In rare cases, a genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis or a chromosomal abnormality could affect male fertility.
Assessment of a man's fertility is primarily acheived through a semen analysis.
A Semen analysis is a relatively simple test which can be used to evaluate a male's fertility. In fact, 1000 Australian men every month are doing it! The test provides an accurate measurement of the size, shape and volume of the sperm
Steps involved in getting a semen analysis
1. Get a referral
Ask your GP or Fertility Specialist to write you a referral for a semen analysis.
You can download the referral form here and take it to your GP. Semen analysis referral form >
2. Book an appointment
Make an appointment at an IVFAustralia clinic so your sample can be analysed within one hour.
Call the clinic most convenient for you on the numbers below to make an appointment directly.
Westmead: 02 8844 1550
City: 02 8346 6800
Greenwich: 02 9425 1678
Maroubra: 02 8372 3200
Kogarah: 02 8567 6955
Dee Why: 02 9425 1678
Gosford: - 02 4349 2000
Newcastle: - 02 4957 8515
3. Sample analysed in lab
Our andrologists assess the semen sample, analysing the number of sperm, their ability to move, their size and shape, and the volume and consistency. A normal sperm count is at least 15 million sperm per ml, with at least a third showing good forward motility and 4% normally formed. If the scientist finds abnormalities, they usually get you to repeat the test after 2 months to identify the nature and degree of any problems.
4. Explanation of results
Our Fertility Specialist or GP will explain your test results to you. If the results indicate that there may be problems with the sperm, improvements in diet and lifestyle may have a positive impact. There are also treatments available that can allow you to conceive a child even if you have a low sperm count, poor sperm movement, or high numbers of abnormally shaped sperm.
In addition to diet and lifestyle changes that can improve the quality of the sperm, there are fertility treatments available to make the best use of the sperm you do have to achieve a pregnancy.
Today using ICSI we can literally produce a pregnancy from a single sperm. ICSI is performed as an additional part of a standard IVF cycle and involves a single sperm being injected directly into a mature egg.
For men with severely reduced levels of sperm morphology or with high levels of DNA fragmentation, Digital High Magnification of Sperm offers couples significant increases in fertilisation and pregnancy rates.
This technique allows the laboratory to enlarge images of sperm to over 7300x magnification (compared to 200-400x in standard ICSI), and pick the most appropriate sperm based on size and shape for fertilisation to be injected into the egg.
Microsurgery can also be used to cure any obstruction, reverse a vasectomy, or surgically retrieve sperm.
A vasectomy reversal is a day surgical procedure performed to re-establish the sperm pathway following a vasectomy. The success of a reversal is dependent on the length of time since the vasectomy, amount of vas removed and presence of antibodies. An alternative to a vasectomy reversal is a sperm retrieval in conjunction with an IVF or ICSI cycle.
If you have just started trying to conceive you should visit your General Practitioner who will carry out tests to ensure you're both in good physical health and provide pre-conception advice.
If you have been trying to conceive for twelve months or more without success, (or 6 months if you are over 36), you can either see your local GP for initial investigations including requesting a semen analysis, or organise a couple's fertility assessment with an IVF Australia fertility specialist.
If you would like more information about male fertility or to book a couples assessment call 1800 111 483 or complete the form.