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The mysteries of male infertility

For many couples it's their worst nightmare. Years of trying and still, no baby. Adoption was once the only option. Nowadays there are fertility drugs, in vitro fertilization, and surrogate mothers. But with these modern-day solutions come new moral conundrums and questions: How far are we willing to go to fight infertility?

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Approximately one-third of fertility problems stem from issues with the male partner. But most of the research into infertility has focused on women. Many infertile men never discover the biological problem, and there has been even less research into men's emotional responses. As we hear in this Middayinterview with family columnist Maria LeRose, doctors are only now delving into the biological and psychological mysteries of male infertility. 
• Male infertility occurs at about the same rate as female infertility. When a couple has trouble conceiving a child, the problem is attributed to male infertility about a third of the time, female infertility a third of the time, and the remaining third is attributed to a combination of male and female infertility or unexplained infertility.

• Semen analysis is the most common way of evaluating male infertility. This comparably inexpensive procedure examines the concentration of sperm, as well as its motility (ability to move spontaneously) and its shape (which impacts its ability to fertilize an egg.) Other tests include hormone evaluation, looking for sperm-fighting antibodies and evaluating the sperm's ability to penetrate a hamster egg.

• Male infertility if often caused by varicoceles (dilated veins around the testicles), as well as hormonal problems, blockages, infection and genetic causes. Common treatments include lifestyle changes, surgery, antibiotics, hormone treatment and artificial insemination. • In 2002, CBC reported on sperm problems resulting from damage to the Y chromosome. You can watch that interview in our additional clip called Genetic flaw leads to declining sperm quality.
Medium: Television
Program: Midday
Broadcast Date: June 14, 1993
: Maria Lerose
Duration: 4:53

Last updated: November 26, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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