The treatment in any given case of infertility depends on the underlying cause. It is also important before starting infertility treatment that both the male and female of the couple have been evaluated, as there is little point in correcting the man’s issues if the woman would still be unable to conceive.
Pre-testicular causes of infertility include those relating to lifestyle or environmental exposure. These can often be treated with either medication or lifestyle changes, such as smoking or drinking less. Changes in the bedroom may also be indicated, such as altering the frequency or timing of intercourse.
The majority of male fertility medicines are hormonal, and are used to increase or decrease the levels of certain hormones within the body in an attempt to raise sperm viability. Success may take a few months as the doctor adjusts the dosage and monitors the results.
Testicular based causes such as radiation exposure often need a more invasive approach based on selecting viable sperm and introducing them directly to the egg. The most common methods are IUI (intrauterine insemination), IVF (in vitro fertilisation) and ICSL (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). With these methods, as long as there are a few viable sperm a pregnancy can normally be achieved.
For couples undergoing in vitro fertilisation where the male has unexplained fertility issues, oral antioxidants often result in a significantly higher live birth rate.
Post-testicular causes of infertility are diverse. While medication or therapy may help causes such as premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction, causes such as obstructions, or other physical defects, may require surgery. Alternatively, they may be treated in the same way as testicular causes, with IVF.
Infertility is treatable in most cases, but for those that aren’t there remain options such as adoption or use of a donor. As with any medical treatment, you and your doctor need to talk until you find a course of action that works for everyone.