How low T treatments interfere with conception
Hormone balance and function are the foundation to human reproduction. In men, testosterone levels that fall below a normal range can affect sexual drive and performance, and cause a great deal of frustration. Commonly prescribed low T treatments address the symptoms, but can also contribute to male infertility.
For couples trying to get pregnant, Dr. Dan Gehlbach specializes in restoring fertility and treating female hormone imbalances. When a couple reveals that the male partner is currently on a testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), Dr. Gehlbach will recommend consulting with the prescribing physician. There are alternative treatments that can level out testosterone, without impairing fertility.
Hormone function and male fertility: The role of testosterone
As a reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Gehlbach pursued a sub-specialty in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to hormonal function. When a couple appears to have male factors contributing to infertility, Dr. Gehlbach will reinforce the importance of hormonal response in the reproductive process:
- The pituitary gland in the brain serves as a control center for male fertility.
- Hormonal signals (a gonadotropin-releasing hormone called LH) from the brain instruct the testes to manufacture testosterone.
- Testosterone regulates male sexual characteristics, from facial hair to muscle mass, and is essential to healthy sperm.
- When signals are interrupted, or fail to occur, and the male sex glands produce little or no hormones, infertility may occur.
The reproductive risks of low T treatments
Low T treatments, in which artificial hormones are administered by patch, gel or injection, interferes with sperm production, essentially “shutting down” hormonal signals.
Such treatments cause testosterone levels to artificially rise; the brain subsequently instructs the testes to stop producing testosterone in the testes. The result of Low T treatment: Sperm production diminishes. Male infertility issues ensue.
Low T treatments have such a profound effect on sperm quality that you may see them marketed one day as a form of birth control.
A fertility doctor’s approach to low T
When a couple consults with Dr. Gehlbach, they can expect comprehensive fertility testing for the female partner. Male infertility factors are diagnosed through a series of semen analysis tests, blood work and conversations about health history.
When Dr. Gehlbach and the highly skilled andrologists in the Midwest Reproductive Center IVF lab determine a low sperm count from semen analysis, blood work will confirm testosterone levels. At this point, Dr. Gehlbach can offer medical intervention: Fertility treatments such as IUI and IVF address the problems caused by a low sperm count.
Additionally, Dr. Gehlbach can have a conversation with the consulting physician regarding the best course of action; i.e. suspending Low T treatment while the couple tries to conceive.
Causes of testosterone deficiency include: age, diabetes, obesity and insufficient Vitamin D. Lifestyle changes can also enhance fertility. You may not be aware that a body mass index above the normal range can affect sperm quality and testosterone levels.
If your partner is experiencing low T symptoms and you wish to start a family, contact Midwest Reproductive Center for a consultation with Dr. Gehlbach.