The term infertility is used when the biological ability of an individual to contribute to conception is diminished or absent. However, this term is generally used if a heterosexual couple has failed to conceive after 12 months of regular unprotected intercourse.
Infertility can happen if there are problems with the normal functioning of the male or female reproductive system. At times the cause for infertility is unexplained (“idiopathic” infertility).
It is important to remember that anyone can be affected by infertility. Gay men or couples may learn that they have a fertility problem after starting the family-building process with Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).
Male infertility can be caused by problems that affect sperm production or the sperm transport process. Your personal circumstances, medical condition and previous care will determine the type of treatment that is recommended by your specialist.
There are a number of factors that can affect a man’s fertility and his ability to father a child through surrogacy and egg donation.
Common male causes of infertility include:
About two-thirds of infertile men have sperm production problems. The most common cause is a problem related to sperm production in the testes. As a result, low numbers of sperm are produced and/or the sperm that is made doesn’t function properly.
Blockages/obstructions in the tubes leading sperm away from the testes to the penis can cause a complete lack of sperm in the ejaculated semen. This is the second most common cause of male infertility and affects about one in every five infertile men.
Substances in the semen and/or blood called sperm antibodies can develop which can reduce sperm movement and prevent it from binding with the female egg, which is needed for fertilisation.
While sexual problems are not a common cause of infertility, erection difficulties or ejaculation problems, such as inability to produce a semen sample for ART treatment, can cause complications.
Sometimes the pituitary gland does not send the right hormonal messages to the testes. This can cause both low testosterone levels and a failure of the testes to produce sperm. Hormonal causes are uncommon. Unfortunately, medical scientists do not yet understand all the details of sperm production and the fertilisation process. As a result, for many men with a sperm production problem, the cause cannot be identified.
If you’re thinking about using someone you know as an egg donor and/ or surrogate , it’s important to know there are several things that can lead to fertility issues in women. Some of the factors that can affect female fertility are: age, medical history, genetic factors and lifestyle (including smoking and weight).
While infertility can be a challenging experience, the good news is it can often be treated or alternative methods of conception can be explored.
At Rainbow Fertility, our specialists have extensive experience in helping create LGBTI families. Feel free to contact our friendly team to learn more about the fertility treatment options available to you.
Current as at 01.02.2016