Male Factor

The Washington University Fertility and Reproductive Medicine Center works with physicians that are fellowship-trained and board certified in urology who are dedicated to the treatment of infertility in men — something few other infertility centers offer.

The Center’s offices include three private rooms for sperm collection. Each room has a private bathroom and turnstyle window for passing samples to the andrology lab.

In addition, the Center operates a dedicated andrology laboratory at Washington University for the analysis of semen samples and for the preparation of sperm for intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF) and sperm cryopreservation. The laboratory is certified by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA).

Causes

In men, the most common causes of infertility are:

  • Sperm concentration, shape or motility abnormalities that affect how well the sperm can reach and fertilize the egg
  • Lifestyle factors, such as stress, smoking, drinking alcohol or taking certain drugs, can also affect male infertility
  • Age, sometimes resulting in decreased testosterone levels

Tests

The first step your doctor will take is to order tests to determine which factors may be causing your infertility problems so the appropriate therapy can be prescribed. Semen samples are analyzed to determine the volume, concentration, motility (movement) and shape of the sperm. All are factors in causing a pregnancy.

Treatment

For couples whose cause of infertility is male factor, both medical and surgical options are offered if appropriate to reverse the problem or to extract sperm by means other than ejaculation, in cases where it is needed.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) often is recommended to give the sperm a better chance of reaching and fertilizing an egg.

When a man has an extremely low sperm count, no sperm in the ejaculate or a genetic disorder, he is evaluated for the possibility of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) as part of IVF. If he is not a candidate for ICSI or chooses not to participate, he may consider the use of donor sperm.

Sperm banking (the cryopreservation of sperm for use at a later date) is available to males who may be about to undergo certain medical treatments such as pelvic surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, which may reduce or eliminate sperm production. It is also offered in cases where sperm samples collection may be difficulty for any number of reasons. The banked sperm may be used as part of one of the assisted reproductive technologies (IVF-ICSI) even when sperm numbers are minimal.

See Treatment Options for more information.