What is male infertility?
Male infertility refers to a problem with a man’s reproductive system that prevents him from getting a woman pregnant. If a man and woman have repeated unprotected intercourse for more than a year and the female doesn’t become pregnant, then you, she, or both are suffering from fertility problems.
How prevalent is male infertility in Singapore?
According to research, nearly 15% of couples in Singapore do not get pregnant successfully within one year or so of trying. Furthermore, it was also found that half of the men studied were infertile.
What are the symptoms of male infertility?
Most men who are infertile will not have any signs or symptoms other than being unable to conceive with their partner. However, some men may experience the following symptoms:
- Low sex drive
- Testicular pain or swelling
- Inability to get or maintain an erection
- Ejaculation issues
- Small, firm testicles
What causes male infertility?
There are numerous potential causes of male infertility including:
- Age: Research has shown that people starting their families later in life are more likely to experience male infertility.
- Lifestyle: Tobacco smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, stress, and wearing tight underwear and trousers can affect fertility.
- Chronic health conditions: Obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure can also exacerbate a man’s risk of infertility.
Other lesser-known potential causes include:
- Genetic irregularities
- Hormonal issues such as reduced levels of testosterone
- Side effects of medications such as immune modulators, chemotherapy, or even anabolic steroids
- Having abnormally large blood vessels around your testicles, or a condition known as varicoceles
- Previous injury, surgery, trauma, or radiotherapy to your testes
These conditions affect fertility by causing a reduction in the quality and quantity of sperm in your semen.
Who is at risk of male infertility in Singapore?
There are several factors that increase your risk of male infertility, these are:
- Overheating your testicles
- Taking illicit drugs
- Having a present or past sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STIs or STDs)
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Tobacco smoking
- Some chronic medical conditions
- History of undescended testicles
How is male infertility diagnosed?
Male infertility is diagnosed using the following test:
- Semen analysis: also known as a sperm count it evaluates the volume of your semen, sperm appearance, the number of sperm, and sperm mobility.
- Blood tests: checks for any signs of infection and checks your hormone levels
- Transrectal ultrasound: checks for signs of blockages or any other abnormalities
What are the treatment options for male infertility in Singapore?
Treatment for male infertility depends on the primary cause of your infertility. However, general treatment for all include:
- Lifestyle changes: avoid tight clothing, stop tobacco use, stop or reduce alcohol consumption, engage in routine aerobic exercises, eat healthy foods
- Medication: some male infertility patients may benefit from hormonal replacement therapy
Infertility refers to a man’s inability to get a woman pregnant whereas subfertility is a condition where couples may be able to conceive, but there may be a lower rate of success.
If you and your sex partner have been trying to get pregnant for more than twelve months but have been unsuccessful, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.
If your infertility is caused by lifestyle choices such as excessive alcohol consumption, working around certain chemical compounds, and smoking you can minimise your risk by making lifestyle changes. Schedule an appointment with your doctor, who may recommend the necessary steps and procedures on how to reduce your risk.
In most cases, male infertility will require medical intervention to resolve.
The exact mode of treatment will depend on your diagnosis. In most cases, your doctor will only recommend certain lifestyle changes. Also, successful management of some chronic health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular problems can help improve your infertility symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend nutritional support supplements. Some men may require hormonal therapy which is equally a highly effective mode of treatment.