Infertility: Have You Checked Your Sperm?

A Uigher woman walks past Chinese paramilitary police on duty in Urumqi, western China's Xinjiang province, Monday, July 6, 2009.
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
For thousands of years, infertility was considered a female problem. The word "barren" sounds almost comical now but was a commonplace label a century ago. In "The Cottage Physician," written at the end of the 19th century, a section entitled "Barrenness" lists possible causes, including "want of tone or strength in the system" and "nervous debility." Treatments included "cold bathing, general tonics or strengtheners to the system, electricity applied locally" as well as "abstinence from sexual indulgence for a time." Fortunately, medicine has progressed considerably since then and the diagnosis and treatment of infertility have improved dramatically. But the misconception that it's solely a female problem has persisted.

About 40 percent of infertility is due to a male factor. Unfortunately, many couples and even doctors neglect to evaluate the male partner - leading to unnecessary testing on the female as well as needless anxiety, cost, and delay in starting a family. In today's CBS Doc Dot Com, Dr. Harry Fisch, a urologist and male infertility expert, describes some of the most common causes of male infertility and explains how they can be treated. Click below to watch this week's CBS Doc Dot Com episode:

Also, Dr. Fisch describes one simple approach that can cure some cases of male infertility:

  • Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for the CBS Evening News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook