A branch of medicine concerned with male diseases and especially those affecting the male reproductive system. Andrology is known as “the science of men.” It is the counterpart to gynecology, which deals with medical issues which are specific to the female reproductive system. Andrology focuses mainly on male reproductive issues such as: infertility and male impotence — erectile dysfunction.

Andrology is not a specialization in medicine. The field is Urology. Urology is the specialization which deals with the science of reproductive system in males. Urologists are the professionals qualified to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the male reproductive system.

Infertility affects approximately 1 out of every 6 couples. An infertility diagnosis is given to a couple who are unable to conceive over the course of one year. When the problem lies with the male partner, it is referred to as male infertility. Male infertility factors contribute to approximately 30% of all infertility cases, and male infertility alone accounts for approximately one-fifth of all infertility cases.

What causes male infertility?

There are four main causes of infertility in males:

  • A hypothalamic or pituitary disorder (1-2%)
  • Gonad disorder (30-40%)
  • Sperm transport disorder (10-20%)>
  • Unknown causes (40-50%)

Much research remains to be performed on the topic of male infertility, as many cases still receive an “unknown cause” diagnosis. Male infertility usually occurs because of sperm that are abnormal, because of inadequate numbers of sperm, or problems with ejaculation. Sperm can be considered abnormal for two possible reasons: unusually short life span of the sperm and/or low mobility.

Sperm abnormalities may be caused by one or more of the following:

  • Inflammation of the testicles
  • Swollen veins in the scrotum
  • Abnormally developed testicles

Reasons for a low sperm count or lack of sperm include one or more of the following:

  • A pre-existing genetic condition
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
  • Severe mumps infection after puberty
  • Hernia repairs
  • Hormone disorder
  • Exposure to poisonous chemicals
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Blockage caused from a previous infection
  • Wearing restrictive or tight underwear
  • Injury to the groin area
Male infertility can also occur when there are problems with ejaculation.

Ejaculation problems may include any of the following:

  • Premature ejaculation
  • Retrograde ejaculation, which occurs when the semen is forced back into the bladder
  • Erection dysfunctions
  • Complications from radiation therapy or surgery

Other causes of male infertility can include:

  • History of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Use of certain types of medications

How is male infertility diagnosed?

Potential male infertility will be assessed as part of a thorough physical examination. The examination will include a medical history regarding potential contributing factors.

Your healthcare provider may use one or more of the following tests to assess fertility:

  • Semen analysis to determine the number and quality of sperm
  • Blood tests to check for infections or hormone problems. Hormone levels are just as important in male fertility as they are in female fertility
  • Making a culture of fluid from the penis to check for infections
  • Physical examination of the penis, scrotum, and prostate

Semen analysis is the most important part of male fertility testing. Some men find it more comfortable to do semen analysis testing in the privacy of their own homes. In-home testing kits are available. What are they looking for in the testing?

When semen analysis is done, your health care provider will be looking for some specific markers to access fertility.

Total amount or volume of semen – 2 milliliters is considered normal. A lower amount may indicate an issue with the seminal vesicles, blocked ducts or a prostate gland issue.

Sperm count – 20 million to 300 million per milliliter is considered in the normal range for sperm counts. Below 10 million is considered “poor.”

Morphology – The size and shape of the sperm effect the sperms ability to reach and fertilize an egg. 30% is considered a good amount of sperm that are shaped “normal.” And “strict” testing shows an even lower percentage as normal.

Motility – Movement and number of active cells. Movement is rated from 0-4, with a score over 3 considered good. A number of active cells are rated in percentages from 1-100%, with 50% considered the minimum.

How is male infertility treated?

Male infertility is most often treated by conventional methods that include one or more of the following:

  • Taking medications to help increase sperm production
  • Taking antibiotics to heal an infection
  • Taking hormones to improve hormone imbalance
  • Avoiding taking long hot showers, using hot tubs or saunas
  • Wearing looser underwear such as boxer shorts versus jockey shorts

Sperm production may also improve by taking clinically proven supplements. Anything that increases the number of healthy sperm increases the chances of conception. Many health food stores and vitamin shops offer male fertility supplements. Artificial insemination is an option if the man’s sperm count is low. In this procedure, sperm is collected through multiple ejaculations and manually placed in the female’s uterus or fallopian tubes.

In vitro fertilization is another option that can be used to overcome male infertility factors. In this procedure, the sperm and egg are fertilized in a laboratory after which the fertilized egg is placed in the female’s uterus. If tests show that there is no sperm production or that other related problems are present, donor sperm can be used to help facilitate conception. In this procedure, donor sperm is obtained from a sperm bank and placed inside the female’s uterus or fallopian tubes through artificial insemination.

Can male infertility be prevented?

There is usually nothing that can be done to prevent male infertility caused by genetic problems or illness. However, there are actions that men can take to decrease the possibility of infertility.

These include:

  • Avoiding sexually transmitted diseases
  • Avoiding elicit drugs
  • Avoiding radiation when possible
  • Avoiding exposure to toxic substances
  • Avoiding heavy or frequent use of alcohol
  • Observing good personal hygiene and health practices
  • Avoiding long hot baths, hot tubs and saunas
  • Wearing loose-fitting underwear

Erectile Dysfunction known as Impotence affects many males. Impotence is defined as: Inability to get and/or maintain an erection suitable for sexual intercourse. Causes of ED may be psychological or physical or both. Occasional occurrences of ED are commonly reported from men and are normally attributed to stress or temporary illnesses.

Persistent or ongoing ED symptoms should be addressed by a healthcare professional as there may be a more serious medical condition or medical conditions which require diagnosis and treatment to eliminate the symptoms of ED.

Some causes of ED include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Damage from cancer or surgery
  • Injuries
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Ageing
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Relationship problems
  • Drug use
  • Alcohol use
  • Smoking

Many more causes exist. Seek the care of a medical professional to discover the cause of your impotence. Discussing ED with your doctor may be difficult and embarrassing but is essential for your well-being and long-term good health. Treatment for ED is available. Many options exist for the treatment of ED. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor as early as possible so that together you can effectively manage or even cure your ED.

This website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and the content provided is intended as informational and educational only. If you require advice for a medical condition you should see a professional health care provider as soon as possible.