In fertility, once considered purely a "female problem," has historically placed little emphasis on the role of the male. At the Northwest Center for Reproductive Sciences, we know that infertility is a couples' condition, and can be attributed to either partner. Approximately one third of infertile couples have a purely male-factor cause, and another third are infertile due to combined male and female factors. There have been major advances in the treatment of infertility, particularly male infertility, over the last fifteen years.
Once, evaluation of the male might be abandoned at the first sign of a female abnormality, and physicians have in the past not appreciated that the high incidence of male infertility. Evaluation of the male partner has often been delayed until testing the female has been completed.
Even men who have fathered a child in the past may at present be infertile. At the Northwest Center for Reproductive Sciences, we evaluate both partners in an infertile couple regardless of past reproductive history. We offer consultation and examination to identify contributing factors in male infertility.
Semen analysis conducted during infertility evaluation can identify disorders such as quantity of sperm, the shape of sperm (morphology), and evaluation of how sperm swim. A precise history is taken, together with blood samples, to rule out sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Sperm is also screened for conditions caused by excessive alcohol, diabetes, medical diseases, marijuana or other drug use.
Most men, even those with little or no sperm in their ejaculate, can have a child using IVF with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Using ICSI, a single sperm can be withdrawn and inserted directly into the egg. We also offer testicular aspiration of sperm for men (a painless outpatient procedure) with an obstruction to sperm ejaculation (such as after a vasectomy).
During male fertility evaluation, abnormalities are often corrected by modifying the behavior causing the condition. A good example of this is prolonged, repetitive sitting in hot tubs, or wearing restrictive underwear. The testicles must be kept at the optimal temperature for sperm production. The scrotum regulates temperature by expanding and moving the testicles further from the body (lowering temperature) or contracting bringing them closer to the body (raising the temperature). The scrotum cannot perform its cooling function if tight clothing constricts it.
A varicocele is a common cause of male infertility and occurs where there is a blockage of the veins leading to the testicles. These veins carry "warmed blood" away from the testicles causing cooling. When they become blocked they cannot perform their "heating and cooling" function in conjunction with the scrotum. A varicocele can usually be treated with surgery performed by a urologist.
Male Fertility Testing
Additional testing services we offer: