Male Fertility Testing

What Percentage of Infertility is Caused by Male Reproductive Issues?

“According to the National Institute of Health , "Overall, one-third of infertility cases are caused by male reproductive issues, one-third by female reproductive issues, and one-third by both male and female reproductive issues or by unknown factors.

To conceive a child, a man's sperm must combine with a woman's egg. The testicles make and store sperm, which are ejaculated by the penis to deliver sperm to the female reproductive tract during sexual intercourse. The most common issues that lead to infertility in men are problems that affect how the testicles work.”

Issues with sperm are the usual cause. Another factor identified in male infertility testing is hormonal disorders, particularly a lack of testosterone, an important hormone in the production of sperm. Erectile dysfunction, retrograde ejaculation and certain structural issues of the male reproductive system are also causes of male infertility.

Semen analysis is the most common method of testing for male infertility and is usually the first step in the male fertility testing process. This procedure involves laboratory analysis of a man's sperm to look at quality, quantity, and motility (active movement) factors. If abnormalities are detected, further evaluation may be needed.

Bottom line: "it takes two to tango," and sperm is a critical component of any fertility workup.

What is Male Fertility Testing?

Fertility testing for men seeks to determine if a problem with the male partner is causing or contributing to a couple's infertility. When a couple is unable to achieve pregnancy after one year of unprotected intercourse (at least once or twice per week), they are diagnosed with infertility. During the initial evaluation of an infertile couple, a fertility doctor will do a thorough evaluation of both partners to determine the underlying cause or causes of infertility.

What are the Types of Male Fertility Testing?

Semen analysis

The semen analysis is the most important test in the male infertility workup. First, a sample of the patient's semen is collected, most often through masturbation, and sent to a laboratory for testing. Then the lab analyst looks at several important metrics that directly impact male fertility. These include:

  • Total volume – how much semen was produced upon ejaculation
  • Concentration of sperm in semen
  • Shape of sperm (morphology)
  • Active movement of sperm (motility).

If any of these criteria fall outside of the normal range, it may indicate the presence of male infertility. Underlying causes include varicocele (an enlarged vein in the scrotum), hormonal disorders or deficiencies, and lifestyle factors such as poor diet and stress. Abnormal semen analysis results may also prompt further testing to determine problems with the sperm's function.

Related information: Causes of Infertility

Male Fertility Testing Physical Exam

In a physical exam the doctor evaluates overall wellness and potentially identifies issues with the reproductive anatomy. The doctor will examine the testicles and the surrounding area to identify issues such as swelling and tenderness, or abnormalities such as varicoceles and cysts.

Male Fertility Testing Assessment of Medical History

Men undergoing fertility testing will be asked about anything in their medical history that could lead to fertility problems. This may include:

  • Past trauma or injury to the testicles
  • Previous mumps infection
  • Previous urinary tract infection
  • Previous cancer treatment
  • Sexual history
  • History of erectile dysfunction
  • Smoking and alcohol use, past and present
  • Environmental exposure to toxins, past and present.

Male Fertility Testing Hormone Testing

A simple blood test may be performed to examine hormone levels that are vital to the production of healthy sperm, particularly if a semen analysis reveals low or abnormal sperm. These hormones include testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and prolactin.

Male Fertility Testing Post-Ejaculatory Urine Test (Urinalysis)

A urine test called a urinalysis may be ordered to detect the presence of semen in the urine, which may be a sign of retrograde ejaculation. Retrograde ejaculation is a condition in which semen that is supposed to release during ejaculation ends up in the bladder instead. Urinalysis can also detect the presence of white blood cells, which may indicate infection that can affect sperm and thus cause male infertility.

Diagnosing and Treating Male Infertility at Positive Steps Fertility

We are well equipped to diagnose male infertility and very experienced at treating it, using the most appropriate method for each patient based on his goals and needs. If you are a man, or your male partner, is having any doubt about male infertility, contact us to get started with a consultation and possible male infertility testing.