Attempts to treat male infertility may be difficult and sometimes even frustrating. The process usually takes time and results are not immediately obvious. It takes at least 3 months (1 cycle of spermatogenesis) following the completion of a treatment scheme, to find out whether the quality of sperm has improved.
When a specific treatable cause is identified, the doctor recommends the appropriate treatment. The treatment may be:
• Pharmaceutical – in cases of inflammation, hormonal disorders or erectile dysfunction (e.g. antibiotics, hormonal products etc.)
• Surgical – in cases of obstruction (e.g. restoration of varicocele, opening of obstructed ejaculatory ducts)
If the female partner’s history permits so, the couple may then try to conceive normally.
If the doctor deems that there is a possibility of improvement, based on the patient’s history, an empirical treatment is followed. Such therapeutic regimes usually include the administration of antioxidants.
If the treatment has positive results, then the couple shall have improved possibilities of conception, either normally or in an assisted way.
In cases where, despite therapeutic measures, the quality of sperm remains low, couples may alternatively opt for techniques of Medically Assisted Reproduction (MER), such as intra-uterine insemination (IUI), the classic in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
The above mentioned techniques do not cure the causes of male infertility but ‘bypass’ the problem, providing couples with the possibility to achieve conception, even when the quality of sperm is extremely low.
Nowadays, rare are the cases of incurable male infertility due to absence of spermatozoa in the ejaculate and the testicles. Male “sterility” describes cases where germ cells of testicles have either not developed or suffered complete and irreversible damage.
For the couples who deal with this condition but still wish to have a family, a solution could be provided by the application of MER methods with sperm donation or by adoption.