Don't forget the other half of the fertility equation - male fertility.

Today’s post was written by Dr. Elena Yanushpolsky, an infertility specialist with the Center for Infertility and Reproductive Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). Dr. Yanushpolsky is also the Director of the BWH Center for Infertility and Reproductive Surgery at South Shore Hospital in South Weymouth.

A couple, both about 33 years old, recently came to my clinic after trying to conceive for 18 months without success. After evaluating both of them, we learned that their inability to conceive was due to the husband’s infertility. This couple’s situation is not unusual. In 20-25 percent of cases, infertility can be attributed exclusively to male factor problems, and an additional 10 percent of couples have male infertility in addition to other factors.

The first step in evaluating whether male infertility is a factor is a detailed health history. Once adequate sexual performance has been confirmed, the next step is a semen analysis. This test measures several characteristics of a man’s sperm, including the number of sperm (volume and concentration), the shape of the sperm (morphology), and the ability of sperm to move (motility). If the results of the semen analysis are abnormal, the test is repeated in three to four weeks. If the second test is abnormal, a man will be referred to a urologist for further evaluation.

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