Infertility

Roughly one in six couples in Switzerland will face infertility. Although the issue is widespread, it is often a source of considerable stress for those affected. The physicians at alta uro understand this and will treat you with sensitivity and compassion throughout the consultation, diagnosis and treatment processes.

According to the World Health Organization, infertility is defined as “the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of unprotected sexual intercourse.” Current data suggest that in approximately 20-30% of couples who are unable to conceive, it is the man who is infertile; in another 20-30% of cases, it is the woman; and in approximately 25-40% of cases, causes are found in both partners. Fertility issues in women are generally treated by a gynaecologist and include the following:

  • Failure to produce mature eggs
  • Conditions that impede the transport of the egg through the fallopian tubes
  • Uterine disorders

The causes of male infertility include:

  • Problems with sperm production
  • Poor sperm transport
  • Ejaculatory disorders

Potential causes of fertility issues in both men and women include inflammation as well as psychological causes such as pronounced stress. Even with modern diagnostic tools, in approximately 10-20% of couples, the cause of infertility cannot be determined.

How is male infertility diagnosed?

The first step in determining the cause of infertility is an extensive medical history. The medical history can help clarify potential causes such as previous or current illnesses, a family history of genetic disorders or the use of certain medications. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, athletic activity and the frequency of sexual activity will also be discussed.

The physical examination involves a general physical exam as well as the examination of the genitals, which can detect potential problems such as changes to the testicles. An ultrasound will also be performed.
Patients can additionally expect to undergo lab tests, including a blood test to measure hormone levels as well as an analysis of the seminal fluid and sperm cells, known as a seminogram. The seminogram is performed in a specialised laboratory and provides information on the quality of the seminal fluid and the sperm.

How is male infertility treated?

Treatment for infertility depends on the cause. Since the quality of sperm cells and seminal fluid can fluctuate, harmful substances and behaviour should be avoided. This includes abstaining from nicotine and drugs such as marijuana, avoiding excessive exercise, and reducing alcohol consumption. These measures often lead to a significant improvement in the quality of the semen and ultimately to a successful pregnancy. If a bacterial infection is detected, a course of antibiotics is indicated.

Although the effect of antioxidants on sperm quality is debatable, in individual cases, this treatment may well be worth attempting. If varicose veins are present around the testicles, surgery may be beneficial. If no cause is found that can be treated with the aforementioned measures, the patient should make an appointment at a centre for reproductive medicine to plan an assisted/artificial reproduction procedure.

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