Male Infertility

 

Male Infertility

Up to 15 percent of couples are infertile, meaning they have been unable to conceive a child after a considerable amount of time. In nearly 50% of these couples, male infertility is the primary cause.

Male infertility is due to low sperm production, abnormal sperm function or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm. Illnesses, injuries, chronic health problems, lifestyle choices and other factors can play a role in causing male infertility.

 

Symptoms

The foremost sign of male infertility is the inability to conceive. This could be the only obvious sign or symptom.

Although most men with male infertility do not notice symptoms other than inability to conceive a child, signs and symptoms associated with male infertility include:

  • Problems with sexual function
  • Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicles
  • Recurring respiratory infections
  • Inability to smell
  • Abnormal breast growth (gynecomastia)
  • Decreased facial or body hair or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality
  • Having a lower than normal sperm count

When to see a doctor

See a doctor if you have been unable to conceive a child after a year of regular, unprotected intercourse or sooner if you have any of the following:

  • Have erection or ejaculation problems, low sex drive, or other problems with sexual function
  • Have pain, discomfort, a lump or swelling in the testicle area
  • Have a history of testicle, prostate or sexual problems
  • Have had groin, testicle, penis or scrotum surgery

Causes

Medical Causes

Problems with male fertility can be caused by a number of health issues and medical treatments. Some of these include:

  • Varicocele
  • Infection
  • Ejaculation issues
  • Antibodies that attack sperm
  • Tumors
  • Undescended testicles
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Defects of tubules that transport sperm
  • Chromosome defects
  • Problems with sexual intercourse
  • Celiac disease
  • Certain medications
  • Prior surgeries:  Vasectomy, inguinal hernia repairs, scrotal or testicular surgeries, prostate surgeries, and large abdominal surgeries performed for testicular and rectal cancers.
Environmental Causes

Certain environmental elements such as heat, toxins and chemicals can reduce sperm production or sperm function. Specific causes include:

  • Industrial chemicals
  • Heavy metal exposure
  • Radiation or X-rays
  • Overheating the testicles
Health, lifestyle and other causes

Some other causes of male infertility include:

  • Illicit drug use
  • Alcohol use
  • Tobacco smoking 
  • Emotional stress
  • Weight

Male Infertility Treatment and Drugs

In cases of infertility, it is recommended that the female partner be checked also.

Treatments for male infertility include:

  • Surgery
  • Treating infections
  • Treatments for sexual intercourse problems
  • Hormone treatments and medications
  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART)

Causes

Medical Causes

Problems with male fertility can be caused by a number of health issues and medical treatments. Some of these include:

  • Varicocele
  • Infection
  • Ejaculation issues
  • Antibodies that attack sperm
  • Tumors
  • Undescended testicles
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Defects of tubules that transport sperm
  • Chromosome defects
  • Problems with sexual intercourse
  • Celiac disease
  • Certain medications
  • Prior surgeries:  Vasectomy, inguinal hernia repairs, scrotal or testicular surgeries, prostate surgeries, and large abdominal surgeries performed for testicular and rectal cancers.
Environmental Causes

Certain environmental elements such as heat, toxins and chemicals can reduce sperm production or sperm function. Specific causes include:

  • Industrial chemicals
  • Heavy metal exposure
  • Radiation or X-rays
  • Overheating the testicles
Health, lifestyle and other causes

Some other causes of male infertility include:

  • Illicit drug use
  • Alcohol use
  • Tobacco smoking 
  • Emotional stress
  • Weight

Male Infertility Treatment and Drugs

In cases of infertility, it is recommended that the female partner be checked also.

Treatments for male infertility include:

  • Surgery
  • Treating infections
  • Treatments for sexual intercourse problems
  • Hormone treatments and medications
  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART)