Male fertility remains a taboo subject despite one in ten men in the UK admitting they’ve experienced fertility issues – and although many men struggle for almost a year to conceive, almost half don’t seek help.
Infertility isn’t just a ‘woman’s’ problem. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), around a third of all cases of infertility are due to problems in the male partner.
In our third blog for Fertility Network UK’s National Fertility Awareness Week, we look at the ‘hidden’ story of male infertility: its many causes, how we can help and its psychological and emotional impact.
Find out you have a problem with your sperm
Male infertility isn’t usually revealed until you start trying for a baby without success. Fertility tests then show you have an issue with your sperm. Your sperm count could be low, your sperm may not be moving as well as they should, or you may not be producing any sperm at all.
You may have an issue with levels of DNA damage in your sperm – a hidden cause of unexplained infertility and miscarriage – which we can identify through SpermComet testing. Or there could be problems with hormone levels and chromosome abnormalities, which could be affecting your sperm production and ability to have a child.
Regardless of the cause, for many men the diagnosis of male infertility can trigger feelings of guilt, frustration and failure. But you can be reassured that you’re not alone; so many men have fertility issues but just don’t talk about it. The good news is that there are treatments to help, even if you aren’t producing any sperm at all. We have the expertise to help you become a father, both through using your own sperm and that of a sperm donor.
Treatments for male infertility
As one of the UK’s leading infertility clinics for the treatment of male infertility, our male fertility specialists are leaders in their field, helping many men to become fathers through our innovative and individualised approach to investigation and treatment.
Treatments for male infertility include:
IVF:IVF helps if you have very mild male fertility problems, such as if your sperm isn’t moving as well as it should. Your sperm is mixed directly with your partner’s eggs to fertilise them in our laboratory.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI):ICSI is the main treatment in most cases of male factor infertility. Instead of mixing the sperm with the egg in conventional IVF, ICSI instead injects a single, healthy and good quality sperm directly into the egg to fertilise it. ICSI overcomes issues such as problems with the shape of your sperm, or if you have a low sperm count.
Surgical Sperm Retrieval (SSR):Surgical Sperm Retrieval is a procedure performed if you aren’t producing any sperm. Our male factor fertility specialists are highly-skilled at SSR techniques. A day-case procedure, SSR involves sourcing and extracting viable sperm from within your testicular tissues. There are many different SSR methods, your consultant will decide which is most likely to be successful for you. Any retrieved sperm is then analysed and if suitable, used in an ICSI cycle with your partner’s eggs.
Donor Sperm:If your best option of a baby is to use donor sperm, at Manchester Fertility we make sure that you’re involved every step of the way, just as you would be if your own sperm were being used. We can offer you and your partner a wide choice of sperm donors with no waiting list. All of our sperm donors are fully-screened, healthy fertile men with high quality sperm, who donate only to us. You’re able to specify any physical characteristics you’d like your sperm donor to have, in most cases men who need to use a sperm donor choose a donor whom they closely resemble. Our Donation Team know all of our sperm donors very well and along with our detailed donor profiles, they help you to choose the right sperm donor for you.
The importance of counselling
Many men choose not to confide in family and friends about their fertility struggles, but there is no stigma or shame in needing help to have a baby, no matter what the cause.
Our counselling team has many years of expertise in guiding couples through the ups and downs of treatment, and are here right from the start to make sure you and your partner are both fully prepared for your journey and how it may affect you both, regardless of the outcome.
Counselling is mandatory if you need to use a sperm donor to have a baby, but it’s available to you at any point of your treatment. Confidential and private, you can see our counsellors on your own and with your partner. You can also talk to any of our team at any time.
Male fertility help: Make an appointment
If you need specialist male fertility treatment and advice, call our Patient Advisors to make an initial appointment on 0161 300 2730. You can also use our Live Chat facility, available via our Homepage during clinic hours, if you want to discreetly talk to our team, or you can apply online.
Our Guide for Men also outlines the many different ways we can help you become a parent if you have male fertility issues.
In our next blog for National Fertility Awareness Week, we’ll look at the importance of counselling when coping with childlessness.