Infertility in Men

In  both men and women, fertility decreases with age.  Yesterday we began our series on Getting Pregnant After Age 35.  Today’s segment will cover how infertility in men is impacted by age.

With men, both sperm count and the quality of the sperm can deteriorate with aging, although the decline is not as dramatic as the changes that can occur in aging women.

Decrease in a man’s capacity to impregnate can also be attributed to other factors such as genes, blocked ducts or blood vessels, past infections or injuries or even a varicose vein in the scrotum which increases the temperature in that area and kills sperms.

Couple looking at home pregnancy testAlso, sperm cells with genetic abnormalities have found to be a common cause for achondroplasia or dwarfism. These cases seem to be more common in cases where the male partners are older.

As mentioned there are ways to aid the inability to conceive. Tests will be conducted to identify the problem and in consideration to the specific situation, doctors can administer treatments and procedures which technology has allowed to be more and more effective. Not without risks and complications however.

Such was the case for Jocelyn and Steven Abbott (not their real names) who at 36 found themselves trying to get pregnant for a year to no avail. They went through a couple of tests one of which was called hysterosalpingogram: a painful process which involves injecting a fluid into the uterus which will be scanned by an x-ray to try and identify blockages in a woman’s fallopian tubes.

Other tests include ultrasound imaging and laparoscopy, a procedure in which a small telescope-like instrument is surgically inserted to check the state of the ovaries and other internal organs.

In some cases, these tests won’t uncover the problem which what happened to our couple in question. The Abbott tried a variety of treatments before they finally reaped success. The first they tried was artificial insemination wherein the doctor’s insert a healthy sperm specimen into the vagina.

When that didn’t work, they tried a few rounds of in vitro fertilization. This procedure requires fertilizing an egg cell with a sperm cell in a petri dish to form embryos. The woman will have to be injected with ovary-stimulating drugs to help facilitate her egg cell production. Two arduous rounds finally gave them their baby boy. But the Abbots says the process was stressful and emotionally taxing and advices couples to strong enough to face the disappointments this hit-and-miss procedures might bring.