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Subfertility (Male)

What is subfertility?

​Subfertility refers to a delay in conception, while infertility denotes the inability to conceive after one year of regular, unprotected intercourse. 

What causes subfertility?

​Subfertility may arise due to either male and/or female factors. Male factors include problems with sperm production, function, and delivery, which are all important factors to fertilise the egg.

These are several factors which may increase the risk of subfertility:

  • Age (female >35 years old, male >40 years old)
  • Smoking or excessive alcohol use
  • Overweight or underweight
  • Excessive stress (e.g. physical, emotional, psychological)
  • Varicocele (dilatation of veins in the scrotum)
  • Recurrent reproductive tract infections
  • Exposure to radiation, toxins, and certain medications
  •  Cancer and its treatment
  • Genetic defects

If female factors are suspected, we can refer you to our gynaecology colleagues for further assessment.

How is subfertility diagnosed?

​After obtaining a detailed history, your doctor will conduct a physical examination, focusing on the external genitalia. Further investigations may include semen analysis (to evaluation sperm count, shape, and motility), blood tests for hormone levels, ultrasound scans of the testes, or genetic tests.

How is subfertility treated?

If subfertility workup is normal, conservative lifestyle modifications such as reducing stress, avoiding smoking and alcohol, and maintaining a healthy weight, may increase your changes of conceiving.

Tailored treatment options are available for different causes of subfertility. For example, microsurgical varicocelectomy can be performed for varicoceles. If there is blockage in the reproductive tract resulting in sperm not being able to be released out of the body, sperm extraction can be done using specialized techniques to allow assisted reproduction.

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