Infertility affects about 15% of all couples trying to get pregnant. Infertility is an issue for the couple as a whole and should be viewed that way by your doctor. The decision to start a family is an exciting time for a couple, but can sometimes be met with challenges. The good news is there are treatment options for both men and women based on the cause of infertility, these include:
There are various medications available for the treatment of low sperm counts. They are designed to stimulate the testicles to produce sperm. Deciding which of these medications is right for you depends on the cause of your infertility and what your lab work shows. Most of these medications take up to 6-9 months for full effect.
Men may choose to have their vasectomy reversed due to a change in life events. While vasectomy reversal is not often covered by insurance, it is cost effective when compared to in-vitro fertilization, particularly if planning to have more than one child. Success rates depend mostly on time since vasectomy and surgeon experience. The rates of success sharply drop at 10 years since vasectomy, but are as high as 80-95% for patients less than 10 years out.
In men who have very low sperm counts or who do not have sperm in their ejaculate, various sperm extraction procedures can be performed to retrieve sperm from the testicle or epididymis. Many of these procedures can be performed under local anesthesia in the office of an infertility specialist. The sperm harvested can then be used for in-vitro fertilization.
Sperm banking is a cost effective way to keep healthy sperm for future use in intrauterine insemination or in-vitro fertilization. In addition to the cost of collecting, testing and freezing the sperm, there is a $150-$300 yearly storage fee. Sperm banking is typically used in cases where a man develops cancer that will require treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation, both of which have harmful effects on sperm production.
Dr. Sevann Helo is a urologist who specializes in Male Infertility and Sexual Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.