Sperm are essential to the reproductive function. The purpose of the male reproductive system is threefold: to create, maintain, and deliver sperm and semen (the protective fluid); to discharge sperm; and to produce male hormones responsible for maintaining the reproductive system.If you and your partner are having trouble conceiving, it could be due to male infertility. One of the main sources of male infertility is the sperm. Understanding the sperm, the anatomy of a sperm, and the functioning behind it, could help you understand why you are unable to conceive.
In order to conceive, both male and female sex cells must join. The male sex cell, sperm, is created by the millions each and every day within the male testicles. This process begins when the male goes through puberty and continues throughout his entire life. The process of maturing sperm, spermatogenesis, takes approximately five weeks. Once the sperm is matured it is ready to be released. Up to 250 million sperm cells can be released in a single ejaculation. Once ejaculated into the female’s reproductive tract, it begins its journey to the uterus. Once it reaches the egg, it pierces the protective coating and fertilizes the egg.
The sperm of a mammal (that includes human beings) consists of 4 parts:
- The head
- The neck
- The midpiece
- The tail
The head contains the nucleus as well as densely coiled chromatin fibres (made up of DNA, protein, and RNA) surrounded by an acrosome which contains enzymes which allow the sperm to pierce the egg’s protective coating. The midpiece which has a central filamentous core, is used for ATP production to support the journey through the cervix, uterus, and uterine tubes of the female’s reproductive system. The tail, also known as the flagellum, implements a repetitive lashing movement that creates the forward propulsion of the sperm and allows it to reach its final destination.
Since sperm is one of the two major factors that determine fertility, it is important that the mobility and quality of the sperm is maintained. If sperm cannot move fast enough to get to the egg, this may result in infertility. Also, if a man does not produce enough sperm (15 million to 200 million), this may also cause infertility.
When a couple comes in with fertility issues, it’s important to test both partners for problems since in about 1/3 of the infertility cases the trouble lies with the male. This helps the doctors find the root of the problem. During a semen analysis both a blood test and a genetic test will be completed to check for hormonal and chromosomal issues. If both of those tests come back normal, a urine test should be completed.
Retrograde Ejaculations: Can I Still Get Pregnant If My Partner Experiences Them?
In nearly 1/3rd of infertility cases, a problem with the male is the reason for the inability to conceive. It could be due to any number of reasons, one of those being retrograde ejaculation. If during sexual intercourse, your partner reaches sexual climax but there’s no telltale release of semen, it could be due to retrograde ejaculation.
What does this mean for your chances of fertility and how can it be fixed?
What is Retrograde Ejaculation?
Simply put, retrograde ejaculation refers to semen entering the bladder instead of exiting through the urethra during an ejaculation. Symptoms include cloudy urine after sexual climax, little to no semen discharged from the urethra during sexual climax, and an inability to conceive. Essentially, the semen is unable to leave the body and potentially fertilize an egg, making it very difficult to conceive.
There are a handful of possible causes of retrograde ejaculations. Prior surgeries on the prostate or urethra could result in a blockage or excess scar tissue preventing semen from travelling where it needs to go.
Diabetes, certain medications such as those used to treat hypertension, and mood-altering drugs such as antidepressants can also disrupt the semen’s path causing retrograde ejaculation.
Treatments for Retrograde Ejaculation
Retrograde ejaculation doesn’t typically need to be treated unless it is preventing conception. Certain medications can be used to treat retrograde ejaculations caused by nerve damage. Nerve damage is a possibility with diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and certain surgeries. If the surgery caused permanent changes to your anatomy such as bladder neck surgery, medications probably won’t be effective. Common drugs for treating retrograde ejaculations include Imipramine, Midodrine, Chlorpheniramine, Ephedrine, and others. All of these medications act by keeping the bladder neck muscle closed during ejaculation.
How to Get Pregnant If Your Partner Has This
If the pharmaceutical treatments listed above don’t seem to be helping your partner’s retrograde ejaculation, you may need to resort to more serious measures. The most common way of getting pregnant without fully solving the problem is by preparing the sperm prior to use. Two sperm specimens are collected: a sample from ejaculation and a urine sample immediately following ejaculation. If there is sperm detected in the urine, doctors will separate it from the urine sample.
After extraction, the sperm will then be put through a special sperm wash to remove dead sperm, urine, and the debris normally present. This sample will then be used for an intrauterine insemination or during in vitro fertilization. This test and wash ensures that the sperm sample isn’t contaminated by anything that could interfere.
Understanding the causes behind your inability to conceive can help you to better diagnose and treat your infertility. Not all forms of infertility are permanent and not all forms will require assisted reproductive treatments.
You don’t have to struggle through these problems alone. Lean on your partner for emotional support through your fertility journey with these tips on coping together.
Understanding everything that goes into the process of reproduction could help you determine why you’re having trouble conceiving. Know that there are fertility treatment options available to you such as The Stork OTC.
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