A good urologist who specializes in male infertility will give you a thorough going-over. It’s important because the exam can detect conditions such as a varicocele.
Varicocele dilated veins around the testicles is a surgically correctable condition affecting 40% of all men with fertility problems. Varicocele repair may be a primary treatment option when there is no female factor. It can also pick up life-threatening conditions such as testicular cancer, the most common cancer in men of reproductive age.
Male Fertility Check Up: More from the physical
Aside from your general health, the doctor will be checking:
Contents of the penis and scrotum
The presence of the vas deferens, the sperm duct
Tenderness or swelling of the epididymis, the duct in which sperm mature and gain motility
The presence or absence of a varicocele
The health of the prostate gland
The next thing that your doctor will do is draw blood to run a battery of tests. What is complicated here is that each lab will have it’s own standards. Make sure you get the copies of the reports and go over them with your doctor. You’ll find out if your hormone levels are where they should be for testosterone and sperm-production or whether there’s a genetic anomaly. The tests determine such things as:
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) level, the brain message to produce sperm.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH) Level, responsible for motivating the testicles to produce testosterone. A low testosterone level not only has impact on sperm production, but also has significant implications for a man’s health in general – including sexual dysfunction, depression, fatigue, bone density and muscle integrity.
Genetic Evaluation. Between 20% and 40% of patients with low or no sperm in the ejaculate have a genetic problem. For example, an extra X chromosome indicates Klinefelter’s Syndrome which is linked to azoospermia (no sperm). Pieces of the Y chromosome may be missing and will be transferred to the sons; it may also indicate cystic fibrosis mutation that requires the spouse to be screened to accurately assess the risk to offspring.
While a lot of this sounds daunting, it really isn’t. And there is no reason to go there, unless your basic over-the-counter SpermCheck test suggests that you need to see a doctor. And even if it does, it really isn’t as scary as it sounds. But it’s what you need to know, if you are ready for the next step.
|Pamela Madsen was the first Executive Director of RESOLVE NYC and is the Founder of The American Fertility Association. Pamela is an internationally known fertility advocate who has appeared on Oprah and countless other major media outlets. Currently, Pamela is a fertility coach and publisher of The Fertility Advocate. She is also a blogger for Psychology Today and SpermCheck Fertility.|