Annually, about 15% of couples in the United States are diagnosed with infertility – approximately 2.4 million couples. In 30% of these couples, a male factor is solely responsible, while combined male and female factors are present in 20%, indicating a male factor as a cause in about half of the cases of infertility.
The Reproductive Health-Andrology Laboratory at USMD Hospital performs all types of diagnostic tests to help your physician determine – or rule out – possible causes of infertility, and recommend an appropriate treatment program. Evaluation begins with a thorough history, covering any past events that may affect fertility, such as hernia repair, trauma or infection. After a complete physical examination, attention is focused on the genital-urinary tract to determine the presence of a varicocele (dilated veins around the testicle), infection or a possible obstruction. Initial laboratory tests include semen analyses and a complete hormone profile, and then several advanced sperm tests to identify any abnormalities. The laboratory uses the criteria of "strict morphology," which is a method of more closely evaluating sperm, with a stricter determination for what should be considered normal than in the past.
Other advanced diagnostic measures include:
- Testing for antisperm antibodies – a condition in which a man's immunologic response to his own sperm interferes with their normal movement and function.
- Testing for the absence of fructose in the semen – fructose is a type of sugar, and its absence may indicate an obstruction or other physical abnormality.
- Testing for white blood cells – differentiating white blood cells from immature sperm may help identify infection.
Results from this evaluation can lead to various diagnoses, such as oligospermia (low sperm density), asthenospermia (abnormal sperm motility), teratospermia (abnormal sperm morphology), azospermia (no sperm in the ejaculate), or hypogonadism.
These laboratory tests and other appropriate procedures will help your physician determine the right treatment for you. New assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) have made it possible for the majority of couples with infertility problems to conceive a child. A male infertility specialist can assist the couple in navigating these options and can help them achieve their goal in as natural a way as possible. The preceding information is used with permission from Urology Associates of North Texas. For more information, go to: www.uant.com