Diagnosing & Treating Male Reproductive Disorders

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  • 0:10 Male Reproductive Conditions
  • 0:38 Diagnosing Male…
  • 2:43 Procedures & Treatments
  • 5:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has a master's degree in cancer biology and has taught high school and college biology.

This lesson is about the diagnostic tests that are available for male reproductive disorders. We will also look at procedures that can be performed on the male reproductive system.

Male Reproductive Conditions

So you may have some questions about the male reproductive system. You have likely learned how things go when everything is working properly. Your questions are probably more about the things that can go wrong. Well, there are indeed quite a few things that may not function the way they should, but there are some ways to address these issues.

When you're determining what condition the reproductive system may be afflicted by, the first thing you're likely to discover is what parts of the reproductive system may be affected by this condition and what the effects are. Let's look at a diagnostic testing that is available for male reproductive conditions.

Diagnosing Male Reproductive Conditions

One area of concern for the male reproductive system is fertility. Fertility refers to the ability to reproduce. One of the simplest tests to diagnose problems with fertility is the sperm count or semen analysis. This test measures different aspects of semen. The first thing to be determined is how much semen is ejaculated. A normal ejaculation should contain about 2-5 mL of semen. The second thing to determine during a semen analysis is the actual sperm count.

The normal range for a man that is fertile is about 15 million sperm per mL of semen. The last thing to be evaluated is if the sperm present have the normal shape, size, and ability to swim. Not all sperm are expected to be perfect, but at least 60% of sperm should meet all criteria in order for a man to be considered fertile.

Another diagnostic tool to find conditions affecting the male reproductive system is the testicular self-exam. As the name suggests, this is an exam that a man does on his testicles to detect physical abnormalities. The exam is checking for any bumps or lumps that are present in the testicles. These may indicate cancer development in the testicles. This exam should be done monthly by men over the age of 20. This exam is suggested even earlier for men with a family history of testicular or other male reproductive cancers.

Another type of cancer that is of concern for males is prostate cancer. There is a diagnostic test that is done to pre-screen for this cancer. A digital rectal exam is performed to test for abnormalities in the shape and size of the prostate gland. The test involves a doctor inserting a finger, or digit, into the rectum to feel the prostate gland. This exam is recommended for men above the age of 40 unless they have a family history of prostate cancer, in which case they should have this done after the age of 25.

Male Reproductive Procedures & Treatments

In the event that the testicular exam and subsequent testing show that a male has testicular cancer, one possible treatment procedure is orchidectomy. This is the surgical removal of testes. This procedure can be done on one or both testes depending on if both are diseased or not. When both testes are removed, this is called castration.

Varicocelectomy is a procedure to cut the veins that are causing varicoceles in the testes. Varicoceles are twisted veins that remove blood from the testes. These can cause infertility and must be treated in order to be resolved. This is one of the most common reasons for male infertility, which makes varicocelectomy one of the most common procedures done on the male reproductive system.

While there are some men trying to make sure they can have babies, there are others that have decided that they have enough or simply don't want any. Men that have decided this may decide to opt for sterilization. Sterilization is surgical fixation to stop the ability to reproduce.

A vasectomy is performed for male sterilization. For this procedure, a surgical incision is made into the vas deferens to prevent sperm from being ejaculated from the testes to the penis. The vas deferens is the tube that serves as a passageway for sperm from the epididymis (or the collection duct for sperm from the testes) to the urethra.

Though still rare, it is becoming more common that men decide to reverse the vasectomy to make them fertile again. Vasovasostomy is the procedure that is performed. With this procedure, the ends of the previously cut vas deferens are connected to allow sperm to once again be ejaculated.

A similar procedure that accomplishes the same goal of restoring fertility after sterilization is vasoepididymostomy. In this case, the vas deferens is connected to the epididymis bypassing the other part of the vas deferens from which it was cut.

Our next procedure is one that you probably know something about and is one that many males have done for them shortly after birth. Circumcision is the cutting away or removal of the foreskin on the end of the penis. There are several reasons why this procedure may be done. It could be because there is a medical need, like if the foreskin is causing problems with urination. Some people have baby boys circumcised for religious beliefs. Others may do it to decrease the likelihood of the boy catching STDs later in life.

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