Let’s start by debunking one of the more common myths about infertility: The female factor is almost always to blame. The truth is that of the 15% of couples who encounter fertility problems, the male factor can account for up to half of these cases.
As our name implies — The Y Factor: Men’s Urological Wellness & Fertility — Dr. Russel Willliams and our team understand the role that male reproductive issues can play in infertility, and we’re here to help. While most of us have 23 pairs of chromosomes, the “Y” chromosome is the defining factor that determines unique male characteristics.
One of the best ways to begin is to clear up any myths and facts surrounding male infertility so that you’re armed with the information you need to build the family of your dreams.
1. Infertility lies mainly with women
We briefly addressed this myth above, but we want to expand on this point a little further. Male reproductive issues are largely caused by four sperm problems:
Sperm defects (The Y Factors):
- Low sperm count or no sperm
- Sperm DNA damage
- Poorly swimming sperm
- Abnormal shaped sperm
Sperm defects caused by:
- Genetic chromosome problems
- Varicoceles – large dilated scrotal veins that place unwarranted heat and pressure on the testicles
- Hormone issues – low testosterone and male hormone imbalance
- Prostate infections
- Synthetic testosterone replacement such as testosterone cypionate injections
- Lifestyle – drinking alcohol, smoking, and recreational drug use
The most important step when you’re trying to figure out the cause of your conception problems is to have both partners fully evaluated. Here at our practice, our reproductive urology specialists can handle the Y factor with a comprehensive fertility evaluation.
2. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the best solution for low or no sperm counts
This statement is FALSE. Sperm count and quality can be improved by the experts at The Y Factor: Men’s Urological Wellness & Fertility. IVF should be an option but not the only option and never attempted without having the male partner fully evaluated. The evaluation needs to be by a reproductive urologist or urologist, a specialized physician trained on men’s health and fertility. Proceeding with IVF without addressing The “Y” Factor is premature and disregards the health of the man. If IVF fails, do you really want to look back and ask yourself “If we had addressed the male correctable factors, would that have changed the outcome?
For example, male fertility evaluation uncovers the higher likelihood of having testicular cancer, hormone problems, genital duct blockage, and infections. A male fertility physical exam is important. All these conditions are more likely to be present in the infertile male. All male fertility factors will be addressed during a male infertility evaluation!
3. Your lifestyle and health don’t affect your fertility
FALSE. Your general health can play a significant role in your fertility. Comorbidities, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity, can impact your sperm and also lead to sexual dysfunction.
By addressing these underlying problems, we’re often able to improve your fertility. If we suspect that a comorbidity, or even your lifestyle, is affecting your ability to conceive, we design a treatment program to improve your chances for fertility success.
4. Your underwear or your cellphone is affecting your fertility
FALSE. I common knowledge is that heat affects sperm production and interest developed on men’s underwear or energy from cell phones. That is not enough stress on the testicle to make much of a difference for many men. Fertility treatment addresses much more significant factors causing a decrease in male fertility.
5. Sexual practice matters
TRUE. This common belief does have some merit in that timing of intercourse and choice of lubricants matter. Having intercourse the day before and day of ovulation is important. Avoiding petroleum based lubricants like KY jelly is important because it damages sperm.
6. Vasectomies can’t be reversed
FALSE. Dr. Williams has extensive experience reversing vasectomies, with a success rate of 90%. Also, sperm can be retrieved and frozen during the vasectomy reversal procedure.
7. I’ve already had children so the problem isn’t mine
FALSE. There are many issues that can lead to male infertility and you may develop one after you’ve already had children. In the fertility world, we call that secondary infertility. The body ages and conditions that can affect fertility can drop you below the threshold to conceive.
8. A zero sperm count means I cannot conceive with my sperm!
FALSE. Before the days of advanced fertility that was correct. Now male fertility treatments can produce sperm back in the ejaculate. If after evaluation or treatment you have no sperm in the ejaculate then Dr. Russel Williams can use advanced microsurgery to retrieve sperm from the testicles.
9. Male fertility treatment is expensive!
TRUE. All medical care is expensive but fortunately many men have insurance fertility coverage. For those men with no fertility coverage, they often will be covered by general health insurance coverage. Many insurance companies recognized that the care we provide at The Y Factor: Men’s Urological Wellness & Fertility is care that benefits the general health of the man. Furthermore, male fertility care, even surgery, is much less expensive than in vitro fertilization (IVF), which can easily be over $10,000 to $15,000 a treatment! The Y Factor: Men’s Urological Wellness & Fertility accepts all major insurance carriers.
The bottom line is that the most important step you can take is to schedule a fertility evaluation with us so that we evaluate the Y factors affecting your health. To get started, contact one of our three locations in Houston, Tomball, and Webster, Texas.