Infections and Male Infertility
Most people assume that infections cause only temporary problems with their health. In fact, if an infection is not treated properly or quickly, it can cause serious problems throughout your body. And this includes your fertility.
What Type of Infection Will Affect My Fertility?
Almost any type of infection that makes an impact on your immune system can impair your fertility. In particular, those that affect your reproductive tract, including the prostate, epididymis or the testis, can hinder your fertility. It is unlikely that an infection will impair your fertility so much as to make you sterile, though.
Most of the time, the effects of an infection are only temporary. While a pesky cold or some other type of infection may lower your sperm count or slow down your sperm’s motility, more often than not, your sperm will rebound back to normal in a few months.
Those That Damage
There are some infections, however, that can do serious damage if not looked after right away. Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are the most common infection associated with male infertility. If they are left untreated, you are repeatedly infected, or have frequent flare-ups, scarring and blockage in the reproductive tracts can occur. Mycoplasma, an organism often found in sexually active men, can attach itself to sperm cells, thereby impeding motility.
Another illness that is often associated with male infertility is the mumps. Men who contract the mumps after puberty are at risk of developing fertility problems. This is because the illness can lead to orchitis, or inflammation of the testicles. While this complication is rare, if it does occur, it can impair sperm production and sometimes lead to permanent sterility.
Unfortunately, many times infections do not cause any symptoms. STDs in particular are known for not producing any signs or symptoms. As a result, getting treatment for the infection may be delayed or never occur causing permanent damage to the reproductive organs. If your sperm production or reproductive tracts have been extensively damaged, it may be necessary to use surgical sperm retrieval methods in combination with ICSI and IVF. Alternately, you may decide to use a sperm donor in combination with IUI.
In cases where symptoms do emerge or the infection is caught early on, antibiotics may be prescribed which should clear up the problem, thereby minimizing any damage to your fertility. If damage, such as scarring or blockage, has already occurred in your reproductive tract, then surgery may be done that can clear up the block or remove the scar tissue.