Male Biology Basics
During puberty, a man’s body begins to produce millions of sperm on a daily basis. The male’s reproductive system is also dependent upon correct hormone levels to maintain sperm production.
The male reproductive system is both external and internal. Like the female’s system, the male’s reproductive system is also highly dependent upon cues from the pituitary gland to stimulate the production of certain hormones.
The testes are located within the scrotal sac, the pouch of skin located below a man’s penis. The testes are the organs responsible for producing both sperm and testosterone, a hormone that maintains male sexual characteristics. It takes up to three months for sperm to become fully developed. Once the sperm leave the testes, they move through a coiled tube called the epididymis, an organ that stores and nourishes them until they become motile. Mature sperm then move into a tube known as the vas deferens which carries them to the seminal vesicles and prostate gland where fluid is added to form semen. The semen is then expelled into the woman’s vagina during intercourse. Sperm can survive within the woman’s reproductive tract between 48 and 72 hours after intercourse.
Spermatogenesis, or the process of sperm development, is governed by three hormones, FSH, LH, and testosterone. The pituitary gland secretes FSH and LH. FSH stimulates sperm production in the testes while LH stimulates testosterone production. The quality of semen has a direct impact upon fertilization. A key factor is sperm motility; even men who have low sperm counts but have highly motile sperm may still be fertile.
Male Infertility Evaluation
During their first visit to the Center, the male partner will undergo a complete physical. The physician will obtain a medical and surgical history and perform a thorough physical examination. In order for conception to occur, the male must produce enough sperm; have a healthy reproductive tract, and the correct hormone levels. A variety of tests will be run to determine which factors may be impacting upon the couple’s ability to achieve a pregnancy.