The reproductive system is a complex mechanism, any detail of which may be impaired due to various pathologies. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, near 50% of male infertility causes cannot be determined. Here we will describe a few of the known causes to increase your awareness and your chances to overcome it.
Both hormonal and neuronal signals are controlling our internal organs: they can either stimulate or suppress the secretion of glands, to change the blood flow through it or even regulate the development of organs in the fetal period. The same applies to the reproductive system and glands. In both cases, with congenital or acquired hormonal disbalance, it may lead to male infertility. Let’s go to the more details.
Important hormones in reproductive system
Although a lot of hormones have a function in the reproductive system, we can highlight three of them:
- Testosterone. It produced in testicles, in cells known as Leydig cells;
- Luteinizing hormone. It produced in the pituitary gland and regulates Leydig cells to produce testosterone;
- Follicle-stimulating hormone is also produced in the pituitary gland, its’ function is to stimulate another type of cells, Sertoli cells, to initiate the spermatozoa maturation.
Reasons of hormonal disbalance
The male infertility problems may appear at any step.
For example, due to the previous trauma or infection of a producing gland, the synthesis of these hormones may become reduced, which will be not enough for normal spermatozoa production. Tumors may also impair this process.
Another case if, due to a specific mutation, there is a loss of sensitivity of target cells to these hormones. They are extremely rare, however, in this case, a patient may require genetic counseling.
There are also cases of congenital underdevelopment of these glands, which will also impair their functioning.
To see the exact reason, your fertility specialist may order several tests. For example, blood biochemistry to evaluate the concentration of hormones, spermogram to see the spermatozoa morphology and activity, and some additional ones.
In some cases, it is possible to compensate the hormonal dysregulation with replacement therapy, but in other cases, the changes may be irreversible and IVF may the only choice.
Our immune system has a tolerance feature: during the early development, it recognizes the own body antigens to prevent an autoregression. Sometimes this system becomes impaired, this may lead to autoimmune diseases.
There is an important moment: as first spermatozoa become produced only in puberty, when the immune system is already mature, there is no chance to develop a tolerance to the cellular components of it. The immunity recognizes it as foreign antigens and starts to attack it.
This happens in the case, if, for some reasons (trauma, tumor, inflammation), the components of testicular tissues enter the bloodstream.
If a doctor will suspect it, the testing for antispermal antibodies may be required. In the case of positive analysis, a doctor will consider treatment options, including IVF if relevant.
Sexually transmitted diseases
There are some infections, which may make an impact on the reproductive function. For example, chlamydiosis, gonorrhea, genital herpes, trichomoniasis, etc. Some of them are associated with an acute beginning and severe symptoms, while chronical course without manifestation is the characteristic of others.
The problem is, these pathogens can develop an infectious inflammation in reproductive organs, which may impair spermatogenesis, hormonal production, normal functioning, and sperm passage.
Sometimes it is challenging to diagnose and treat it because of an asymptomatic course and treatment resistance of microorganisms, however, the prognosis may be good in case of strick keeping to the doctors’ recommendations.
There are a lot of causes why male infertility may origin, however, with modern diagnostical and treatment approaches, there are great chances to become a parent despite it. In case, if your fertility specialist will prescribe you an IVF treatment, we will provide you with the best possible options.
Read more about female infertility in our blog!
Author: Oleksandr Petrenko, Medical Manager of Pons Medical Group