Identifying Male Factor Problems
Just like their female counterparts, males are first expected to discuss their medical history with a physician when infertility is suspected (typically one year after starting the trying to conceive process). Using this medical history, physicians can determine whether past medical problems or sexual history, such as STDs or ejaculatory issues, are contributing to the couple's infertility issues. In addition to discussing medical history, a physical exam is typically completed and blood is drawn to test FSH levels, testosterone levels, and prolactin. Finally, a semen analysis is completed. This analyzes sperm count, motility, velocity, morphology, volume, and liquefaction. Results from the male infertility work up are used to determine whether or not there is a male factor issue linked to the couple's infertility.
Emotions Involved with Male Factor Infertility
Males who are dealing with MFI may experience a wide range of emotions. Some males may not feel as sensitive about their infertility in comparison to women who are experiencing infertility. According to RESOLVE, "Our culture shields men from developing expectations of their role as a parent. This may account for many men's seeming detachment when they discover that childlessness may be in their future" (RESOLVE, 2014).
Males may also feel angry and discouraged by their infertility diagnosis; however, they may chose to hide their feelings and not share how they feel with their spouses/partners. An infertility diagnosis can make males feel like "less of a man", just as an infertility diagnosis can make a woman feel like "less of woman". No one starts the journey to starting a family thinking that their body may be standing in the way of achieving their dream of bringing children into the world. Just like females, males may feel isolated. They may not know of anyone else who is dealing with MFI. In many cases, males will not reach out for the support of others like many females do.
Ways to Cope With a MFI Diagnosis
- Do your research and talk to your doctor - learn more about your diagnosis and determine possible treatment options.
- Express how you feel - keeping all your emotions bottled up isn't always a good thing. Talk to your spouse/partner or a close friend about your diagnosis. You don't have to go through this alone.
- Find support - RESOLVE offers support groups in many cities across the United States. There are also great resources and supporters in online forums such as Twitter and the blogosphere. Again - you are not alone in this.
Treatment Options When Dealing With MFI
There are a variety of treatment options available to couples who are dealing with MFI (depending on the severity and circumstances surrounding the MFI). These treatment options include: Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA), or testicular sperm extraction (TESE). For more information on treatment options, couples should contact their physician.