Many couples tend to shy away from discussing the sensitive topic of infertility. However, avoiding the issue can cause stress to any relationship. That is why it is vital for you and your partner to seek expert advice from medical professionals in order to take the right steps towards a successful pregnancy. In 2017, a systematic review published in the Human Reproduction Update journal found that the sperm count among men living in Western countries has collectively declined by more than 50 per cent in a span of less than four decades. This startling statistic begs the question: What causes male infertility?
Low sperm count/quality
Sperm problems can sometimes be genetic, due to long-term illnesses, poor lifestyle choices (such as smoking and drinking) or traced back to childhood infections such as mumps. Certain medications like anabolic steroids and drugs to treat hair loss have been known to lower sperm quantity. In its most severe form, there could be a total lack of sperm in the semen, a condition known as azoospermia. Two out of 10 men who suffer from azoospermia have a blockage in their reproductive tract caused by a development defect or a previous infection.
Varicoceles are dilated and enlarged veins in the scrotum. This causes the testicles to heat up, which in turn impairs sperm function. Although varicocele affects up to 40 per cent of infertile men, it can be rectified with a minor surgery to tie the veins off.
Some instances of ejaculatory disorders include premature ejaculation (where the ejection of semen occurs too early, even before penetration) and retrograde ejaculation (where the semen flows back into the bladder instead of out the penis). While ejaculatory disorders can greatly impact a couple’s ability to conceive, they can be overcome with medication.
Erectile dysfunction occurs when a man is unable to achieve or maintain an erection. It is more common with age, although performance anxiety or overwhelming stress can result in psychogenic erectile dysfunction.
Certain hormones like luteinising hormone (LH) are vital for normal testicular function such as the production of testosterone. An imbalance in hormone production may be caused by growths in some organs or the consumption of certain medication, thus affecting one’s sperm production and sexual function.
Taking the next step
Regardless of the root cause of a couple’s infertility, the journey to a successful pregnancy should start by evaluating the sexual health of both partners. For example, a routine semen sample analysis can accurately determine a man’s sexual potency and fertility potential.
While many would shy away from having a candid discussion about their sexual health, it is vital for couples to do so in order to boost their chances of conception. Men’s health screening is available at StarMed Specialist Centre.
StarMed Specialist Centre is a onestop private ambulatory care centre that provides medical services performed on an outpatient basis without hospital admission. Although multidisciplinary in terms of specialities, the centre has a focus in cardiovascular and urological conditions. It also specialises in providing diagnostic services and minimally invasive surgeries within one day.
Armed with an experienced team of specialists, nurses and care associates, StarMed Specialist Centre is a quality private healthcare solution that you can place your trust in.
Dr Lee Fang Jann, consultant urologist and male infertility specialist at StarMed Specialist Centre
1 & 2 A one-stop-centre for quality private healthcare, StarMed Specialist Centre provides diagnostic services and outpatient medical services within one day. 3 It is conveniently located above Farrer Park MRT Station, while StarMed Satellite Clinic is located at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre.
For more information, visit www.starmedspecialist.com.
• #05-01, 12 Farrer Park Station Road • StarMed Satellite @ Mt. E • #12-14 Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre
MAIN PHOTO 123RF