HomeInfertilityUnexplained InfertilityTiny Bubbles in Semen Could Contribute To 'Unexplained Infertility'

Tiny Bubbles in Semen Could Contribute To ‘Unexplained Infertility’

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In today’s time there are various causes of male infertility. While most of them can be explained or linked to other conditions, some causes still remain unexplained. 

Researchers have discovered that tiny bubbles of cell membrane found in the semen of infertile men may help explain some cases of infertility. 

According to the findings, these bubbles can impair the lining of the uterus, making it less receptive to embryo implantation. The findings may explain one-quarter of all cases of infertility.

Understanding the possible causes are for unexplained infertility can lead to new treatments. For instance, tiny bubbles in the semen could contribute to the infertility of a couple after one year of sexual intercourse without birth control. 

Healthcare providers can test sperm and semen for evidence of tiny bubbles. If the healthcare provider finds any of these, they can suggest new treatment methods to help couples conceive.

In this guide, we are going to throw some light on how tiny bubbles in semen could contribute to ‘unexplained infertility’. 

Why Are There Bubbles in Semen?

Semen is a thin, jelly-like, or streaky substance that men ejaculate after having sexual intercourse. It is composed of 95% fluids, with the remainder coming from the reproductive system and three other organs. 

At ejaculation, sperm is pumped up into the seminal vesicles to inject fluids into the seminal duct. These fluids vary in proportions depending on how long it has been since a man ejaculated. The majority of men have watery semen.

The normal colour of semen is whitish-grey. Sometimes it appears yellow or green. These colours can be harmless, but if they continue, it could be a sign of something more serious. Semen also contains tiny bubbles. You might wonder why there are bubbles in semen.

These are fluid-filled bubbles of cell membranes. Researchers believe that the fluid-filled bubbles are exosomes, which are released from a variety of male reproductive cells.

These tiny bubbles can fuse with sperm cells and deliver molecules that help the sperm to perform better. These bubbles merge with sperm cells, which helps to improve the quality.

What is Unexplained Infertility in Men?

Infertility is a medical condition in which the male is unable to impregnate a woman even after a year or more of regular sexual intercourse. In 20 to 50 per cent of infertility cases, the male factor is suspected.

While some reasons behind male infertility are known, others are unexplained. Researchers and doctors fail to identify and find the root cause of infertility in men. It is known as unexplained infertility. 

The first step in identifying the cause of male infertility is to perform an erection test. This is an important part of the initial screening. Improper erection can interfere with sperm count and function.  

Apart from that, the doctor might also test the semen as well as perform various hormonal tests to find out the problem. Nowadays, there are various treatments available to cure and manage infertility in men. 

Common Causes of Male Infertility 

In men, infertility can be due to many reasons and causes. Let’s look at some of the more common ones.

  • Sperm Disorders

Sperm disorder is the most common cause of male infertility. The quality and quantity of the sperm can lead to infertility problems. A number of causes of male infertility due to dysfunction of the sperm are obvious. A biopsy of the testicles may reveal a deficiency in sperm count or even no sperm. A doctor can prescribe a treatment based on these findings.

  • Varicoceles

Many couples seek medical treatment for male infertility because of varicocele. This condition affects about half of all couples seeking treatment for male infertility. In this condition, the testicles are too warm to make sperm, and the blood flows back, resulting in infertility. Depending on the severity of the condition, varicocele treatment may include surgical repair or removal.

  • Immunologic Infertility

In this condition, the man’s body produces antibodies that attack sperm, thereby causing infertility. These antibodies can interfere with normal fertility variables and cause reproductive disorders in either partner. Immunologic factors affect approximately 8 to 10% of couples, with males accounting for about eight to 10 per cent of cases. 

  • Retrograde Ejaculation

When a man experiences difficulty conceiving a child, one of the most common causes of this condition is retrograde ejaculation. Here, the sperm flows back into the body. While there are many causes of retrograde ejaculation, men may also experience difficulty getting a woman pregnant. Treatment for retrograde ejaculation is relatively simple and safe. 

  • Medication

The first thing to consider if you suspect male infertility is whether you’re taking medication that might be affecting your ability to conceive. Some medications affect sperm in a direct way. Calcium channel blockers, for example, are commonly used to treat high blood pressure and have been shown to impair sperm production. Other drugs include medicines for depression, arthritis, anxiety, digestive problems, high blood pressure, cancer, etc. 

  • Obstruction

Obstruction can be an underlying condition or a secondary complication of infertility. Infection, congenital anomalies, and iatrogenic injury can all result in obstruction. Obstructed ejaculatory ducts are another major cause of infertility. Often, obstruction of these ducts results in low sperm production and a low sperm count. 

  • Hormones

Infertility is often caused by hormonal imbalances in men. In men, insufficient gonadotropins in the pituitary gland lead to an inability to produce sperm. The pituitary gland releases hormones, including testosterone, which stimulate the production of sperm. These hormones may increase sperm production if they are low, which can contribute to infertility. 

The Diagnosis of Male Infertility 

Male infertility is common and contributes to a large percentage of infertility cases. In order to treat the problem, a proper diagnosis is required. Here are some common diagnoses available to identify infertility in men. 

  • History and Physical Exam

A complete medical history and physical exam are the first steps in the diagnosis of male infertility. During your visit to the doctor, they will ask you questions about your family history, medications, habits, and sperm levels. Your physician will perform a physical exam, focusing on your genitals. Most of the physical exams are painless and quick.

  • Semen Analysis

If a man has trouble conceiving, he may be asked to undergo a semen analysis. Semen analysis is an important test used by fertility specialists to diagnose male infertility. The results of this analysis can help determine possible causes of male infertility, such as irregularly shaped sperm or an insufficient number of sperm in the ejaculate.

  • Testicular Biopsy

A testicular biopsy is a surgical procedure that removes tissue from the testicle for examination under a microscope. The type of biopsy performed depends on the reason for the procedure. Your health care provider will discuss all available options with you before the procedure. 

  • Transrectal Ultrasound

Transrectal ultrasound is an excellent noninvasive diagnostic tool for determining the cause of male infertility. This test allows doctors to evaluate the ejaculatory duct, seminal vesicles, and prostate status. A doctor can also use this test to diagnose a varicocele. This examination also identifies masses which can impair sperm function.

  • Hormonal Profile

Infertility can affect both partners. In half of the cases, the infertile partner is the one who fails to produce sperm. In order to determine whether the problem is caused by low testosterone, hormone levels must be checked in both partners. For male infertility, the hormones testosterone and LH may need to be checked. 

Treatment for Unknown Causes of Male Infertility

With the advancement in fertility sciences, there are various treatments available for infertility in men and women. Here are common treatments available for unknown causes of male infertility

  • Assisted Reproductive Techniques
  • Intrauterine Insemination
  • In Vitro Fertilization
  • Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

Sperm Disorders – The Main Cause of Male Infertility

A number of conditions may be responsible for male infertility, but the most common problem is not an absence of sperm but a defect in the way they are produced. Low sperm counts can also be caused by certain medications, surgeries, and infections, all of which can interfere with sperm production. Here are some common sperm disorders that lead to male infertility.

  • Oddly shaped sperm
  • Sperm is not moving in the right direction
  • Partially grown sperm
  • Absence of sperm
  • Low-quality sperm
  • Low number of sperm
  • Tiny bubbles in sperm

Why Are There Bubbles in Semen and How They Contribute to Unexplained Male Infertility? 

If you’ve never heard of exosomes before, you may be surprised to learn that tiny bubbles of the cell membrane are present in the semen of both healthy and infertile men. 

Scientists have previously discovered that exosomes have the ability to fuse with sperm cells and deliver molecules that improve the quality of sperm. 

But did you know that a quarter of infertility cases have no obvious cause? Despite this fact, scientists believe that these fluid-filled bubbles may be a contributing factor to unexplained infertility in men.

Researchers have found that tiny bubbles in sperm can be the cause of unexplained infertility in men. Semen contains these bubbles that help to improve the quality.

While these bubbles are present in fertile and infertile men, it is observed that the ones in infertile men fail to impregnate a woman. They might cause the uterus lining to become less receptive.

These bubbles trigger a different genetic activity when they reach the uterus lining. As it makes the lining less respective, it leads to problems like infertility. 

Conclusion

Unexplained male infertility has become a cause of concern amongst men. As the root cause of the problem cannot be detected, there are hardly any treatment options available. However, researchers have found a link between the tiny bubbles in semen and infertility in men. It is observed that these bubbles can improve the quality of sperm and make the uterus lining more receptive to implantation. This new observation can open new doors to the treatment of unexplained male infertility. 

FAQs

What Causes Low Sperm Count in a Guy?

This common problem affects men of all ages and many different ethnicities. While it is difficult to pinpoint exactly why a man has a low sperm count, it is most likely the result of underlying health issues that may be causing the problem. It can be due to hormonal problems, genetics, underlying medical condition, obstruction or due to certain medications. 

Can Infertility in Men Be Cured?

The answer to this question depends on what the underlying cause of infertility is. If you are having difficulty getting a woman pregnant, your doctor will first try to determine what your underlying problem is. While most causes of infertility in men are treatable, certain treatments are ineffective. 

Can Infection Cause Infertility in a Man?

Infections are inflammatory conditions that affect the reproductive tract and have been implicated in infertility in men. These changes can affect sperm morphology, functionality, and acrosomal structure. Nevertheless, the relationship between infections and infertility remains unclear. 

How Can a Man Increase His Fertility?

In order to increase your chances of getting a woman pregnant, you can eat certain foods, change your lifestyle, and get regular checkups. Maintaining a healthy weight can increase fertility. Try eating fruits and vegetables that contain plenty of antioxidants. STIs can also reduce sperm count. To avoid infection, limit sexual partners and stay in monogamous relationships. 

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Pooja N Swamy (M.Sc Biomedical Sciences)
Pooja Holds Master's Degree in Biomedical Sciences from Vellore Institute of Technology. She believes in strong research and clear understanding over the subject. Always determined and focussed with a thirst to learn new things. Hardworking, flexible and grounded to align with the goals.

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