Male fertility, how to preserve it over time

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Philippe Gloaguen
@philippegloaguen
Author and references

Contents

  • 1 How Male Fertility Changes 
  • 2 Male fertility and varicocele
  • 3 Male fertility and cryptorchidism
  • 4 Male fertility and azoospermia 
  • 5 Male fertility: other risky pathologies
  • 6 Male fertility and lifestyles 
  • 7 Male fertility, how to improve it 
  • 8 Male fertility tests

When we talk about fertility, for who knows why we immediately think of the woman and her reproductive capacity. In reality it is not only her "problem" because in many cases the man also bears her responsibilities. The Chances of Pregnancy they also depend on man. Did you know, for example, that almost half of all cases of infertility have a male cause? Human reproductive well-being depends on many factors. Some (for example, some lifestyles) can be corrected, while others require medical attention. Let's see what are the risks for male fertility and how to take action. 



How male fertility changes 

Contrary to what one might think, male fertility also changes over time. Of course it is not a radical change like that of the woman (we talked about it HERE) who at some point sees her ovarian reserve exhausting and goes towards menopause, but objectively there is something different. 

Even for men, age plays to the detriment of reproductive capacity and begins to decline after the age of 35. The decline is decidedly more drastic after the age of 50/55. When it is possible and if all the conditions are met, this is another reason why you should try to become pregnant when you are still at a young age. We obviously understand that this is not always feasible, for many personal reasons. That's why we often get pregnant at 40.


Over time, the first thing that decreases is the volume of the ejaculate, due to the aging of the seminal vesicles. The volume decreases by a percentage ranging from 3 to 22 percent. The mobility of spermatozoa also gradually worsens, decreasing from 4 to 18 percent. 


Biological changes in semen not only make conception more difficult, but are related to a greater risk of miscarriage in the first trimester of pregnancy (in particular if the man is over 50 years of age and the woman is 35). Furthermore, the risk of pregnancy-related problems, such as gestational diabetes, is higher. Don't worry: it is not a rule for this to happen. We just want to inform you about hypothetical risks. 

Male fertility and varicocele

One of the "sworn enemies" of male fertility is varicocele, a pathological dilation of the veins of the testicle that become varices. It is a rather widespread disease: it affects about 10-20 percent of the male population. It generally has a fairly early onset, between 11 and 16 years.

Varicocele often does not give particular symptoms and, consequently, it is not always diagnosed early. When there are symptoms, symptoms include a feeling of heaviness in the left testicle, especially after physical exertion or after standing for a long time. At other times it is possible that the man feels a kind of "encumbrance" in the scrotum area. 

Not all men know that self-examination of the testicles is a fundamental gesture, a bit like breastfeeding for women. It is very important because it allows you to know your anatomy and therefore to notice any alterations. It should be done every month from 15 years of age. 

In addition to this, a basic diagnostic tool is the visit to the andrologist. The ideal would be to go there when you do not have any problems, starting from puberty. Many men, especially the younger ones, feel ashamed to undergo this kind of visit. But it is a taboo that must absolutely be overcome: there is nothing wrong and indeed it affects your health. 



Male fertility and cryptorchidism

This technical term indicates the failure of a testicle or both to descend. The problem is evident already at birth and must be kept under control. Cryptorchidism affects between 3 and 5 percent of the infant population and is common among premature or low birth weight babies (30 percent). 

Timeliness is essential for the treatment of this disorder. In fact, it is advisable to intervene within two years of age with hormonal therapy or, in case of failure, with a surgical intervention. Treating it late or even not treating it at all can have important consequences, such as a reduction in the number of spermatozoa and a higher chance of getting malignant tumors. 

Male fertility and azoospermia 

1 percent of the world's population suffers from azoospermia, which results in the absence of spermatozoa in the seminal fluid. This is a pretty serious problem when trying to get pregnant. In fact, the disorder is found in 10-20 percent of cases of male infertility. 

The diagnosis is made through various tests: spermiogram, hormone tests, ultrasound, genetic analysis, testicular biopsy. Treatments vary depending on the cause and range from surgery to dedicated therapies. Medically assisted procreation is often the solution to becoming parents. 

Male fertility: other risky pathologies

Some sexually transmitted diseases can have negative consequences on fertility, even compromising it. We should think about it when we are young, when sexual relations are often promiscuous and consummate without "thinking about it too much". Prevention with barrier methods of birth control (condoms) is essential. Sexually transmitted diseases can in turn cause disorders such as urethritis, epididymitis, orchitis and prostatitis, modifying the quality of spermatozoa and their ability to fertilize. 


Testicular tumors also pose a threat to male reproductive capacity. Approximately 2.000 cases are registered in the country every year. The therapies allow a good prognosis for the men who are affected, but they are often quite heavy, risking to compromise fertility. For example, this is what happens with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Before undergoing these treatments, cryopreservation techniques for spermatozoa (freezing) are usually recommended and then reused with MAP. 


Male fertility and lifestyles 

Some lifestyles have a direct influence on male fertility, in some cases worsening it in a very significant way. Let's see some of them. 

  • Smoke. Nicotine and other substances contained in cigarettes are among the main causes of male sexual dysfunction. In fact, smoking reduces the quality and number of spermatozoa. In those who smoke a lot, the decrease is about 20 percent.
  • Alcohol. Especially when consumed in large quantities, alcohol causes a reduced amount of testosterone produced by the testes (hypogonadism). In addition, alcohol reduces the quality and number of spermatozoa. 
  • Narcotic substances. They have different effects depending on the substance you take. Marijuana decreases sperm motility and sperm count, as well as altering hormones. Cocaine can cause infertility and erectile dysfunction, while opiates can cause hypogonadism and increase genetic changes in sperm DNA.
  • Food disorders. You may never have thought about it, but eating problems are the cause of 12 percent of infertility cases. Obesity decreases testosterone and, consequently, libido and the amount of semen. Furthermore, it increases the genetic alterations in the DNA of the spermatozoa. But excessive thinness is also not good for you. 
  • Doping substances. The habit of doping inhibits the production of testosterone and also causes severe metabolic imbalances. These substances can also cause azoospermia and alteration of sexual characteristics. 

Male fertility, how to improve it 

  1. Learn about your fertility: consult your doctor to know how to preserve it over time. Don't be ashamed to do it: it's normal and above all healthy!
  2. Take action on all risk factors: by reducing those, you are more likely to stay healthy. 
  3. Beware of infections: sexually transmitted infections are capable of compromising fertility.
  4. Stop smoking: cigarettes seriously damage spermatozoa, their quality and quality.
  5. Drink little: Excess alcohol can cause consequences such as impotence and decreased libido.
  6. No to doping: anabolic steroids block the production of the male hormone.

Male fertility tests

In addition to visiting the andrologist, there are some tests that you can do to check your fertility, especially in view of a pregnancy. 

  • Spermiogram. It is a seminal fluid test that evaluates the quantity and quality of sperm. It is very important to know these characteristics because they can have an impact on fertility. For example, slow sperm have less ability to fertilize. The same thing happens if they are quantitatively scarce. 
  • Hormonal dosages. It is also essential to analyze the circulating quantity of some hormones that have a more or less direct influence on fertility. These include follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, testosterone, prolactin, estradiol, thyroid hormones. 
  • Scrotal or testicular echocolordoppler. It is a non-invasive test that allows to evaluate the characteristics of the testicles and to identify any pathologies affecting them that can, among other things, affect the reproductive capacity of man. One of the most common problems associated with infertility is varicocele. 
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