Apart from a woman’s age, problems with sperm production are some of the biggest factors affecting a couples’ ability to get pregnant.
To conceive a healthy baby, the male partner needs to produce a good amount of normal sperm, and be able to ejaculate them during sexual intercourse. Typically, more than 20 million sperm/ml need to be present in the semen for natural conception, and more than half of those need to move forward quickly, with at least 10% a normal shape.
Male fertility issues account for about 40% of the fertility problems we see at Queensland Fertility Group so if it’s taking longer than expected to get pregnant, it’s important that couples are assessed together.
How are sperm produced?
Sperm and testosterone are both produced in the testes. Sperm then pass slowly through a long coiled channel called the epididymis, where they mature so they can swim and penetrate an egg cell. They then travel via the vas deferens to the urethra, and out of the penis as they are ejaculated.
A sperm’s structure includes a head, which contains the genetic material needed for fertilisation (or conception), and a tail for propulsion towards the female egg. The entire process of sperm formation takes about 72 days.
What causes male fertility issues?
Problems with sperm production and delivery can be caused by genetic abnormalities, hormonal imbalances, or blocked or absent tubes preventing sperm passage (usually due to injury, genetic conditions or a vasectomy). The good news is that there are treatments to use whatever sperm may be available to successfully conceive a baby.
It is also clear that healthy men produce healthy sperm. Smoking and recreational drugs negatively impact sperm quality, and men who are overweight or who work in chemically toxic environments are more likely to have reduced semen quality.
A man’s sperm quality is also affected by his age. After the age of 40, a greater number of DNA abnormalities occur in sperm.
Male fertility testing
A semen analysis is the most important male fertility test. It’s a very simple test that tells us a lot about your fertility and can be arranged by calling us on 1800 111 483.
For free, friendly advice on maximising male fertility call us on 1800 111 483 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm), or send us an email enquiry.