Trouble getting pregnant? Unhealthy testicles may be to blame

1 out of every 7 couples in Israel faces fertility issues, but contrary to popular belief that the source of the problem lies mostly with the women, in about 50% of the cases the issue is with men.

The process of extracting eggs in a lab in a fertility clinic. (photo credit: REUTERS)
The process of extracting eggs in a lab in a fertility clinic.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

The Men's Health Center at the Raphael Hospital in Tel Aviv offers comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of fertility problems originating from men. The male fertility clinic operates under the leadership of Dr. Dana Livna, an expert in male fertility and urological surgery.

"Over the years, I have treated many couples who underwent fertility treatments without a preliminary examination of the man. In one case, I met a couple who underwent a year and a half of fertility treatments, without examining the man, and it finally turned out that he suffered from testicular cancer," shared Dr. Livna.

"After several cycles of fertility treatments, which included daily injections of hormones, egg retrieval in the surgery room, exhausting follow-ups and a nerve-wracking wait every month when no embryo developed, they came to me and a physical examination revealed a lump in the testicle. The meaning of the late diagnosis, apart from the unsuccessful fertility treatments, are the metastases that were discovered, so that after the testicle removal he needed chemotherapy."

In this case, Dr. Livna explained that the couple got their happy ending; after treatment, they went on to become parents. 

Difficulty conceiving can be a stressful and frustrating process, but it is important to remember that expedited diagnosis and correct treatment may shorten the path for both partners and lead to a successful pregnancy.

Pregnant woman (Illustrative) (credit: PIXABAY)Pregnant woman (Illustrative) (credit: PIXABAY)
The possible reasons for infertility among men are diverse.

The origin of fertility problems in men is just as diverse as in women and requires thorough examination. Many times, the problem will manifest itself as a decrease in the quantity or quality of the sperm, but not necessarily. The process of sperm creation is affected by a wide variety of genetic, environmental and emotional factors. 

Factors that may affect the quality and quantity of sperm

  • Varicose veins- This is the most common cause of fertility problems that can be treated easily. Today's medical research indicates that enlarged veins cause conditions in the testicles to change, harming the normal production of sperm. Eliminating these veins in a minimally invasive operation has been shown to improve sperm counts in about 70% of cases.
  • Blockages caused by inflammation of the testicle (orchitis), or various infectious diseases (gonorrhea, syphilis, AIDS).
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Undescended testicle - a congenital problem in which the testicle is not in the scrotum. Even if the condition was corrected with surgery at a young age as it often is, long-term fertility may still be affected.
  • Lifestyle - smoking, excessive drinking of alcohol, drug consumption, obesity and high exposure to stressful situations can negatively impact male fertility.
  • Environmental factors such as radiation, exposure to lead or prolonged exposure to intense heat can damage sperm count.
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Side-effects of medication
  • Posterior ejaculation - a condition in which semen is ejected into the bladder instead of being ejected out.
  • Chromosomal or genetic disorders

What are the solutions?

Modern medicine and advanced technologies offer us a wide range of solutions. It is important to know that before approaching the solutions, the problem must be diagnosed through a visit to a urologist who specializes in male fertility.

Male fertility problems can be treated, in some cases even with immediate and relatively simple solutions. A correct diagnosis can save time and unnecessary treatments for the partner, and bring couples closer to the desired pregnancy.

When should you consult a doctor?

The generally acceptable medical answer to this question is that couples should consult a medical professional after one year of unsuccessfully trying to conceive on their own. However, as soon as several months into the process couples may choose to seek medical advice. This is especially relevant for couples aged 35 and older.