Andrology – a dictionary of the most important terms

Did you know that there is a male equivalent of gynecology? Of course, this is about andrology – a relatively new and still not very popular field of medicine. To familiarize our readers with the issues of andrology and to explain exactly what it does, we have prepared a dictionary of the most important terms.


Did you know that there is a male equivalent of gynecology? Of course, this is about andrology – a relatively new and still not very popular field of medicine. To familiarize our readers with the issues of andrology and to explain exactly what it does, we have prepared a dictionary of the most important terms.


Andrology – gynecology for men


Andrology is a branch of medicine in which the range of interests includes areas covering physiology, anatomy, morphology and disorders of the male reproductive system. Unfortunately, currently it is given much less attention and is certainly not as popular as gynecology. It’s a pit…


For many years, it was thought that infertility only affected women. Everything changed thanks to the World Health Organization (WHO), which clearly confirmed that the problem of infertility also affects men. Currently, 15% of the couples around the world is struggling with infertility. What’s more, it is caused by a male factor in 40%. And it was for this reason that a need arose to isolate a completely new branch of medicine – andrology. It draws from many other medical disciplines, including urology, sexology, endocrinology or pediatrics. The andrologist’s help is, or at least should be used by men who, despite their efforts, can’t conceive due to hormonal disorders, erection problems or birth defects within the genitals.


Male infertility – the effect of a changing environment


The development of civilization causes enormous pollution of the natural environment, which affects male and female fertility. Store shelves are full of preserved and “unhealthy” food. Everything we eat most often is a highly processed product, full of chemical additives and “enhancers”. An inactive lifestyle is equally harmful. Office workers, professional drivers, miners, IT specialists – according to many studies, they are men with the lowest semen parameters! The quality of spermatozoa is also negatively affected by work at high temperatures and in the environment of toxic substances. It should not be forgotten that more and more men suffer from obesity and related hormonal disorders (excess of estrogen). Meanwhile, it is the hormonal balance that is responsible for proper male fertility.


Types of infertility – primary, secondary and idiopathic


Sometimes, despite trying for months, a woman can’t get pregnant. Many couples are looking forward to having their first child or another one. The problem appears for an unknown reason. In the first case we are talking about primary infertility, and in the second case about secondary infertility. Therefore, this division does not take into account the reason, but the moment when problems with conceiving a child arise. It also happens that despite many months of efforts and many tests carried out, the couple do not find out what the actual reason for the lack of pregnancy is. The menstrual cycle is clockwork, and the results of all tests – hormonal, anatomical, genetic or sperm tests – do not deviate from the norm. In this case, the so-called idiopathic infertility, i.e. one whose causes simply cannot currently be determined.


Spermatogenesis – sperm formation process


In the girl’s ovaries, at birth, there are about 2,000,000 immature follicles. Only about 500 eggs will mature and release over the course of a lifetime. It looks completely different for a boy. Sperm are produced on a regular basis, several thousand per second. However, this does not happen immediately, young man’s spermatogenesis begins around the age of 14. The entire process of sperm formation, or spermatogenesis, occurs in the testicles located in the scrotum. However, before the spermatozoa are able to fertilize the egg, they must become from the primary germ cells to become actively flowing sperm, supplied with, among others in the head, midpiece and tail. To this end, they undergo a number of divisions, which are accompanied by the process of their full maturation.


Seminogram – why is it frightening for men?


Seminogram (spermiogram) is the basic semen analysis. It allows to assess the number of spermatozoa in the ejaculate, their mobility, structure, as well as a number of other important parameters, such as smell, color, viscosity, pH and liquefaction time.


Although the spermiogram provides a lot of important information about male fertility, men perform this test very reluctantly. Why? First of all, they are afraid that the very process of donating sperm will take place in conditions that are uncomfortable for them, without intimacy guaranteed. These fears are completely unnecessary. The Infertility Clinic always tries to provide patients who give sperm the most comfortable and intimate conditions. The patient has a special room at his disposal that he can lock from the inside. He can be there on his own, or with his partner. He will also find movies and magazines that will help him give his sample of ejaculate. Men, of course, are also afraid of the test result itself. Often because they identify fertility with the so-called “Sexual performance.” “I have poor sperm quality, does this mean I’m less masculine?” Such thinking is wrong. Reduced semen parameters absolutely do not deprive a man of his masculinity and do not interfere with sexual function, but they can indicate the existence of some medical problem.


Oligospermia, azoospermia, necrospermia – what can semen test detect?


Oligospermia means reduced sperm concentration in a semen sample. This condition can vary in severity – from mild to moderate to very severe oligospermia, in which the number of spermatozoa in the ejaculate does not exceed 1 million / ml. It happens that sperm does not occur at all in male semen. This disorder, called azoospermia, can have a variety of causes, e.g. genetic mutation (e.g. CFTR gene mutation, AZF mutation on the Y chromosome), inflammation, ionizing radiation, toxic substances, or chemotherapy. The cause of azoosermia may also be hypogonadism, which means abnormal testicular function or obstruction or absence of the vas deferens (routes that lead to semen from the testicles). In andrology, the concept of necrospermia is also known, i.e. a condition in which a man’s sperm are dead.


Semen smear – one of the most important elements of semen analysis


It allows to very accurately assess the structure of spermatozoa in the examined man. Sperm smears are stained by various methods (e.g. Papanicolau or Shorra) using a special mix of dyes.


Cryopreservation of sperm – how to preserve fertility for many years


We cannot foresee everything that happens to us in life. Cancer can attack at any age and it usually surprises us completely. We are often not aware that cancer and related cancer treatment can cause infertility. This situation may prevent a man from becoming a father in the future. Fortunately, thanks to the development of new technologies, cancer patients no longer have to lose the chance of parenting. By freezing their sperm before starting treatment, they can store it long-term in the laboratory – until the moment comes when they can use it. This treatment is called cryopreservation of semen.


Testicular biopsy – a procedure used to diagnose infertility and cancer


Testicular biopsy plays an extremely important role not only in the diagnosis of male infertility, but also in the diagnosis of testicular cancer. Bilateral testicular biopsy is most often performed on men with known azoospermia, i.e. complete absence of sperm in the semen. During the procedure, a small piece of tissue is removed from the testicle or epididymis, from which the spermatozoa are isolated for the IVF procedure.


Men just like women want to take care of their fertility


Each of us would like to enjoy good health and physical condition. However, this requires work on oneself and regular preventive examinations. Men often avoid doctors at all cost- especially those who deal with such an intimate sphere of life as fertility or sexuality. Meanwhile, regular visits to the andrologist should be the norm for a man – just as for a woman regular visits to the gynecologist are the norm.

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