Health 101: Infertility in Men

What are different treatment options for infertility in men?

How men are treated for infertility depends on their test results and the problems they turn up. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, up to 90 percent of infertility cases are treated with drugs or surgery -- not assisted reproductive technologies like IVF. As a general overview, men are typically treated for infertility in one of the following ways, or sometimes, through a combination of several:

  • Surgery: Different procedures may fix blocked or scarred tubes, remove varicoceles, which are varicose veins in the testicles that can hinder fertility, or reverse vasectomies.
  • Intrauterine insemination: AKA artificial insemination, sperm are directly inserted into the uterus using a syringe -- bypassing the intercourse part of babymaking. This treatment is used most often for men with low sperm counts or other issues with sperm quality or quantity.
  • Assisted reproductive technology: This includes several methods (IVF is the main one) where eggs are fertilized with sperm in a lab and then put back into the woman's body to develop into a fetus. ART increases your risk of getting pregnant with multiples. A specific type of ART, called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be needed when the man's sperm count is very low or the sperm have motility problems. In this procedure, sperm is directly injected into an individual egg.
  • Fertility drugs: The same hormone combinations used to treat ovulation problems in women may also help some men who aren't producing sperm normally because of a hormone imbalance.

Sources: Christopher Williams, MD, author of The Fastest Way to Get Pregnant Naturally; 100 Questions and Answers About Infertility, by John D. Gordon, MD, and Michael DiMattina, MD; The Fertility Diet, by Jorge E. Chavarro, MD, and Walter C. Willett, MD; American Society for Reproductive Medicine sections on infertility; National Women's Health Information Center; sections on infertility; sections on infertility; University of Maryland Medical Center sections on infertility

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