Worried about infertility? Let's share some facts. Infertility can be due either to the male or female partners or in rare instances, due to both. According to an estimate [1], 15 % of the couples in the world are facing infertility issues out of which approximately 30% can be attributed to the male partner. However the good news is, with proper management, you can get pregnant if your husband is having fertility issues. In the paragraphs to follow, we will discuss the signs, symptoms diagnosis including diagnostic testing for male infertility issues.


Signs and symptoms of male infertility

You need to know some of the major signs of infertility in men. Top of the list is inability to bear the child when all your diagnostic workup is normal without a known pathology. Symptoms of male infertility include:

¬    Deficiencies in sex functions for instance difficult ejaculation or low volume of ejaculated semen, decreased sex drive or erectile dysfunction (difficulty in achieving or maintaining an erection)
¬    Undescended or partially descended testicles
¬    Testicular symptoms like lumps or swelling
¬    Respiratory tract infections occurring again and again
¬    Problems with the sense of smell
¬    Gynecomastia, a condition of the males having enlarged breasts like females
¬    Absent or very few body hair or hair on face.
¬    Low sperm counts


Diagnosis of male infertility

Don’t panic if your partner has any of the abovementioned signs and symptoms, it is time to see the doctor. Diagnosis of male fertility needs to be established before proceeding with its treatment, which in fact has good results in most of the cases. Diagnosis involves taking a careful medical history of the male partner and a subsequent general physical examination. Afterwards, the patient is offered male infertility testing described in the subsequent section. 

Male infertility testing

Semen analysis
This is the first diagnostic test to be prescribed for cases of male infertility. Patients are advised to abstain from ejaculating for a certain period of time and then masturbate to obtain a sample of the semen in a specialized container provided by the laboratory. Alternatively, a specialized condom may be used to obtain the sample during natural sexual intercourse. The sample so collected is examined by the laboratory in detail in order to count the number of sperms in the ejaculate along with their movement and form, called sperm motility and morphology respectively.

Blood and urine tests

Apart from semen analysis, some blood and urine tests can be done to find out a clue of male infertility. Blood test for the levels of circulating male hormone i.e. testosterone can be done. Hormone assays (tests determining the levels of circulating hormones) for a variety of other hormones in the body can also be done. Urine can be tested for urinary tract infections which often predispose males to infertility and correlate with low sperm counts.


Ultrasound examination of the testes is routinely performed to see if the testes are normal in their structure. They also confirm any other structural abnormality of the testes for example hydrocele and varicocele which usually lead to infertility. A new technique is the trans-rectal ultrasound in which an ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum to visualize the prostate gland and tube system which carries sperms and semen. Any blockage in this system can be confirmed on the trans-rectal ultrasound. 

Genetic testing

Several genetic syndromes carry infertility as a part of their spectrum. In order to rule out such syndromes, genetic testing can be done. 

Biopsy of testicles

Sometimes, although rarely, a microscopic examination of the testicles, producers of sperms are necessary to confirm a problem with them. In such cases, a biopsy has to be done.

So we conclude that infertility is not always due to abnormalities in women. In many cases, men are responsible for it. But the good news is that a lot can be done to establish male infertility, determine its causes and get them rectified accordingly. So its nothing to worry about, science has a lot of options for you!

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