in Chattanooga TN
The UT Erlanger Men’s Health Clinic offers contemporary andrology services necessary in the evaluation of male infertility. Our services include complex semen analysis testing by a certified andrology lab technician dedicated primarily to the laboratory assessment of male fertility. We are the only practice in the region that offers andrology services with a comprehensive male fertility test by a fellowship-trained male reproductive specialist, Dr. Shridharani. Our point-of-contact all-encompassing service offers men a comfortable setting and convenient service unmatched in the region.
What is Andrology?
Andrology is the branch of medicine concerned with men’s health and well-being, specifically male reproductive and sexual health. A health professional trained in complex semen analysis testing will provide a male fertility test to assess a man’s fertility potential.
What Tests are Offered?
Semen analysis is the quickest and most cost-effective way to diagnose male fertility problems. Most patients who are having trouble conceiving should start with a semen analysis. Our andrologist will examine your semen and provide you with a detailed breakdown of your numbers. This will include:
- Sperm Count Test
- Sperm Motility Test
- Sperm Morphology Test via Strict Kruger Morphology
A sperm count is a total count of living sperm in your ejaculate, sperm mobility or motility is the number of moving and active sperm, and sperm morphology is the shape of your sperm.
Sperm count and motility affect what is known as your ‘total motile sperm count.’ This is the measurement of healthy sperm that are able to move towards and attempt to fertilize a female’s egg.
Determining a sperm’s morphology or shape involves an analysis of the specimen under a specialized, high-powered microscope. Our andrologist will look for the correct size and shape of your sperm, including the head, mid- or connecting piece, the tail, and the end piece.
Retrograde Semen Analysis
Sometimes male infertility can be caused when ejaculated sperm does not escape the urethra and instead travels into the bladder. This is called retrograde ejaculation. We can examine your urine post-ejaculation to see if a significant portion of your sperm is not being released. Sometimes this sperm can be washed and used for intrauterine insemination.
Many patients with retrograde ejaculation will have had previous surgeries or medical conditions that predispose them to this issue. This can include prostate cancer, bladder cancer, bladder neck surgery, or diabetes, among many others. Often medications can be identified that when stopped, will reverse the problem. These factors will be addressed during your evaluation.
Other specialized tests offered by the Andrology Lab include:
- Sperm Viability Testing
- Testing for Anti-Sperm Antibodies
- Testing for Leukocytospermia
Why is andrology important?
What a gynecologist is to a woman, an andrologist such as Dr. Shridharani is to a man. A large part of this role is addressing male infertility through a semen analysis and other tests described on this page. But there’s more to andrology than that.
Although people often mistakenly lump impotence in with infertility, the two are not necessarily interrelated. A man can have erectile dysfunction but still have a completely healthy sperm. Dr. Shridharani can prescribe drugs such as Viagra to overcome the ED and help the patient past the problem.
Andrologists also can help patients who have low testosterone levels through hormone replacement therapy. This will likely increase the patient’s sexual desire and libido. Similarly, an andrologist such as Dr. Shridharani can help men through male menopause with testosterone replacement therapy.
Andrology also addresses family planning. This could include performing a vasectomy when a man decides he no longer wants to be able to have any children (or any more children).
All of these issues make Dr. Shridharani and other andrologists a very important part of men’s health and well-being.
What causes a low sperm count in a man?
When a man has a low sperm count, this means his semen ejaculated during an orgasm contains fewer sperm than normal. Clinically known as oligospermia, if a man has fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen this is considered below normal.
There are a variety of reasons a man can have a low sperm count. The production of sperm requires normal functioning of the testicles, along with the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Once produced, the sperm then are transported through delicate tubes until they mix with the semen and are ejaculated. There can be problems at any stage of the process. Causes can be grouped as medical, environmental, and health or lifestyle.
- Varicocele — This is a swelling of the veins that drain the testicle. This is the most common reversible cause of male infertility.
- Infection — Some infections can interfere with sperm production or health.
- Ejaculation problems — Retrograde ejaculation (where the semen enters the bladder rather than emerging from the tip of the penis) can be the result of diabetes or surgery on the bladder, prostate, or urethra.
- Antibodies that attack sperm — These immune system cells mistakenly identify sperm as invaders.
- Tumors — These can affect the male reproductive organs directly.
- Undescended testicles — During fetal development one or both testicles sometimes fail to descend from the abdomen into the scrotum. Men who have this condition in development are more likely to have decreased fertility.
- Hormone imbalances — Problems with the hypothalamus, pituitary, and testicles can affect the hormones they produce, which are necessary for healthy sperm production.
- Tube problems — Blockage in any of the different tubes that carry semen can occur at any level in the process.
- Chromosome defects — Certain inherited disorders, such as Klinefelter’s syndrome, can affect the normal development of the male reproductive organs.
- Celiac disease — Sensitivity to gluten can cause male infertility.
- Medications — Long-term anabolic steroid use, testosterone replacement therapy, and other medications can impair sperm production.
- Prior surgery — Hernia repairs, testicular surgeries, prostate surgeries, and large abdominal surgeries can create blockages.
- Industrial chemicals — Exposure to benzenes, herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, painting materials, lead, and other chemicals can lower sperm counts.
- Heavy metals — exposure to lead or other heavy metals can cause infertility.
- Radiation — Exposure to radiation can reduce sperm production.
- Overheating — Frequent use of saunas or hot tubs can temporarily lower sperm counts, so may wearing tight clothing (such as bicycle shorts) for long stretches.
- Drug use — Anabolic steroids can cause the testicles to shrink. Cocaine and marijuana use can also reduce the number and quality of sperm.
- Alcohol use — Excessive alcohol use can lower testosterone levels and sperm production.
- Tobacco — There is some evidence that smoking can lower sperm counts.
- Stress — Severe or prolonged stress can interfere with the hormones that are involved with sperm production.
- Depression — Depression can lower sperm concentration.
- Obesity — This can impair fertility in various ways.
What are the signs of low sperm count in a man?
As you would assume, the most telling sign of low sperm count is the inability to conceive a child. There may be no other obvious signs. Some issues, such as conditions that block the passage of sperm, could display symptoms.
Low sperm count symptoms might include:
- Problems with sexual function
- Pain, swelling, or a lump in the testicle area
- Decreased facial or body hair or other signs of a chromosome or hormone problem
How is semen analysis performed?
Sperm analysis is simply done by examining semen under a microscope to see how many sperm appear within squares on a grid pattern. Sperm samples are typically collected from patients who have masturbated and ejaculated into a special container at our Chattanooga offices. If a patient doesn’t want to provide a sample this way, Dr. Shridharani can provide a special condom that can be worn during intercourse.
Sperm analysis will reflect your levels over the past three months. That’s because sperm are continually produced in the testicles, and they take about 42 to 76 days to mature. This means changes made to improve sperm counts won’t show up for several months in your results.
Schedule Your Consultation Today
If you are interested in scheduling a male fertility test for you, your partner, or a patient, please call 423-778-4MEN. Contact Dr. Shrid Men’s Health & Microsurgery here, or visit us in Chattanooga, TN to learn more about the Andrology Services we offer.