Infertility is defined as the inabiity to get or stay pregnant after 6–12 months of unprotected sex. Infertility is a diagnosis based on an outcome — a lack of pregnancy — as opposed to specific lab tests. However, diagnostic testing can help provide an explanation for what is causing or contributing to infertility. Typically, male fertility is evaluated by a semen analysis (SA), which highlights sperm motility, morphology, and concentration.

What is infertility?

Infertility is defined as the inability to acheive pregancy after twelve months of unprotected sex. Infertility is characterized as a “functional diagnosis.” In other words, infertility is based on an outcome (in this case, lack of pregnancy), rather than a collection of lab tests.

However, many different tests and examinations exist that can help diagnose the factors or causes contributing to infertility. For people with testes, the first step is typically a semen analysis (SA). This test helps determine sperm motility (movement), sperm morphology (shape/structure), and concentration (quantity).

In female patients, fertility declines significantly after the age of 35. As a result, patients over 35 may be diagnosed with infertility if they do not conceive after just six months of unprotected sex.

Infertility in males

Male-factor infertility can be caused by a number of different factors, including poor sperm health, hormonal disorders, genetic disorders, or the disruption of the testicular or ejaculatory function, such as azoospermia, varicoceles, trauma to the testes, and unhealthy lifestyle habits. Though fertility is often thought of as a “women’s issue,” male-factor infertility is actually a contributor in around half of infertility cases.  

Symptoms of infertility

Typically, infertility is defined by the inability to conceive after having unprotected sex for 6–12 months. But other signs of infertility can be observed, as well. Common warning signs for infertility in people with testes are swelling to the testicular area, problems with sexual function (retrograde ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, etc.), and abnormal breast growth (also known as “gynecomastia”).

Treatment of infertility

There are a number of different treatments available to couples struggling to conceive. The first step is consulting a fertility specialist and diagnosing the issue. Couples with infertility can turn to assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures to conceive, including in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination. In some cases, healthier lifestyle choices can also have a positive impact on fertility.

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