Infertility in Indian men
Infertility is a medical condition that affects the reproductive organs of both males and females that might lead to problems conceiving. Infertility in the case of males is either linked to sexual functions or sperm quality. The psychological and physical consequences of not being able to conceive are always borne by women due to the predominantly patriarchal nature of Indian society. The fact contradictory to such societal behaviour is that occurrence of infertility is 30% in the case of men, which is the same as that for women. It is also 30% when it comes to couples and 15% of infertility remains unexplained.
Causes of male infertility
In the case of both male and female fertility issues, there can be a number of contributing factors such as sedentary lifestyle leading to obesity, drinking and smoking, environmental factors like pollution as well as stress-related issues and genetic irregularities.
The major causes include the following factors for males:
- Anatomical problems: A varicocele is a testicular growth that consists of veins draining the testicle. This is a sign not to ignore and consulting with a specialist is a must. Similarly, if you have had surgery or experienced trauma in the scrotal or pelvic region, injury to the spine, or have chronic health conditions such as diabetes, you might experience troubles with conception.
- Hormonal imbalances: The production and distribution of sperm, as well as sexual desire, are the direct effects of hormone production in the body. Irregularities or disorders affecting the endocrine system can lead to decreased production of testosterone. This can, in turn, affect your sexual urge and the health of the sperm.
- Sperm maladies: With time, several factors may arise that have an effect on the production of viable sperm in the male body. 5% of the male population who suffer from fertility problems have a condition called Azoospermia, where there is no sperm count in the semen. There are two kinds of Azoospermia:
- Non-obstructive Azoospermia, a condition where the sperm count is so minimal that it cannot enter the ejaculate.
- Obstructive Azoospermia, another condition where we have normal production of sperm. However, the vas deferens is blocked in this case because of which the sperm cannot reach the ejaculate.
- Lifestyle factors: Smoking, drinking alcohol and taking drugs have been linked with poor fertility. Lack of exercise in men is intrinsically associated with decreased sperm quality. Stress is a major contributor now with increased working hours and uncertainty arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stress releases steroid hormones that decrease testosterone levels in the body which affects the sperm production of an individual.
Why does male fertility get ignored in India?
The shame and stigma attached to infertility in men continues to pose a challenge to the acceptance of infertility treatments in India. Just like a liver dysfunction is nothing to be ashamed of, similarly, infertility issues are not a sign of weakness, but are just a medical condition, and thanks to the advancement of medical sciences, there is a light at the end of this tunnel.
In the past decade, more and more couples have opened up about their inability to conceive and are seeking fertility treatments including options like IVF, breaking away from the taboo and the hush-hush conversations.
Why should men not ignore fertility issues?
When it comes to seeking professional help relating to fertility issues in men, the main factor holding them back lies in the longstanding culture of keeping quiet on the subject of infertility. Males fail to realise the consequences before it is too late. The burden of this falls on toxic masculinity, social stigma, improper information and lack of awareness regarding fertility and reproductive health. This delays the diagnosis of infertility problems to a great extent, thus further delaying the treatment.
Oftentimes the treatment procedures can appear intimidating to such men as well as couples because they lack a support system to lean on. Hence, it is important to talk to your doctor and discuss your issues, so that the exact root cause can be diagnosed and the right treatment can be initiated at the right time.
How is infertility diagnosed in men?
Healthy semen is a sure indicator of your sexual and physical health. The quality of your semen is also an important factor that lowers the risk of developing infertility and several other sexual problems. However, a mere sight of your semen will not really aid you in determining whether you have healthy sperm or not. Getting a professional opinion is advisable if you are concerned about your fertility health.
Besides undergoing medical evaluation and tests, you can always look out for signs and symptoms related to your semen and overall health that may be an indicator of fertility issues. In India, often male fertility is associated with certain physical traits and behaviours, however, there is no evidence that suggests links of fertility to those traits or behaviours. Though some physical indicators can be associated with higher chances of infertility like low-pitched voice and being morbidly obese.
The most accurate way to diagnose infertility in men is to undergo fertility tests.
Analysis of semen and hormones
An evaluation of the semen can provide information on factors such as sperm volume, sperm count and motility, as well as morphological aspects of the sperm. The sperm specimen can be collected either at home (with Janani) or in the lab (if done outside the lab, it needs to be transported to the lab within an hour). While obtaining a semen specimen, it should be gathered through masturbation. It is recommended that there are no chemicals like gels used during the procedure. This can cause interference in the final evaluation of semen.
Apart from semen testing, it might also be recommended that you get your hormone levels checked. This includes testing FSH, LH, Prolactin and testosterone levels in your body.
Medical and Physical Evaluation
Medical evaluation involves a thorough medical history, followed by a discussion on your lifestyle and unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking, consuming drugs which can have a significant adverse effect on sperm. In some cases with abnormal findings of the semen analysis, you may also be referred to a urologist to perform a physical examination. This is important to ensure that you do not have a testicular mass or any lesions in the scrotal region that might be affecting the production of sperm.
How do the make.life packages address the male fertility issues?
At Janani, you get end-to-end solutions for any sexual or reproductive problem you may be facing. Janani is the first company in India to launch an at-home semen collection service. In fact, the majority of Janani’s diagnostic and wellness packages can be availed from home. The packages also include complimentary medical expert and nutritionist consultations, along with exclusive guidance on lifestyle management and being healthy overall. These packages also eliminate the hassle of visiting a clinic or a hospital and helps with the privacy of the customer. Visit the make.life section for more information on Janani’s packages.
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