Causes of Male Infertility

Similar to female’s contribution to infertility, male infertility factors contribute to approximately 40% of all infertility cases. There are four main causes of infertility in males:

  • Hypothalamic/Pituitary disorders (1-5%)
  • Gonad disorders (35%)
  • Sperm transport disorder (15%)
  • Unknown causes (45%)

Male infertility usually occurs because of problems in sperm production or sperm transport. Sperm abnormalities include; low number, low motility, high abnormal shape or short life spam.

Sperm abnormalities may be caused by one or more of the followings:

  • Inflammation of the testes
  • Swollen veins in the scrotum (varicocele)
  • Underdeveloped testes

 

Reasons for a low sperm count or lack of sperm include one or more of the followings:

  • A pre-existing genetic condition
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
  • Severe mumps infection after puberty
  • Hernia repairs
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Exposure to poisonous chemicals
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Blockage caused from a previous infection
  • Wearing restrictive or tight underwear
  • Injury to the groin area

Male infertility can also occur when there are problems with ejaculation. Ejaculation problems may include any of the followings:

  • Premature ejaculation
  • Retrograde ejaculation, which occurs when the semen is forced back into the bladder
  • Erection dysfunctions
  • Complications from radiation therapy or surgery

 

Other causes of male infertility can include:

  • History of STD’s
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Use of certain types of medications

Assess the likelihood of infertility:

Potential male infertility will be assessed as part of a thorough evaluation. The evaluation will include reviewing the medical history regarding potential contributing factors. Your Physician (Andrologist) may use one or more of the following tests to assess fertility:

  • Semen analysis to determine the number and quality of sperm
  • Blood test to check for infections or hormone problems. Hormone levels are just as important in male fertility as they are in female fertility
  • Making a culture of fluid from the penis to check for infections
  • Physical examination of the penis, scrotum and prostate

When semen analysis is done, your health care provider will be looking for some specific markers to access fertility.

  • Total amount or volume of semen – 2 milliliters is considered normal. A lower amount may indicate an issue with the seminal vesicles, blocked ducts or a prostate gland issue.
  • Sperm count – 15 million or more per milliliter is considered normal range for sperm counts. Below 10 million is considered “poor.”
  • Morphology – the size and shape of the sperm affect the sperms’ ability to reach and fertilize an egg. At least 4% of sperms of normal shape in the sample is considered normal.
  • Motility – movement and number of active sperms. At least 32% of sperms should have forward active movement to be considered normal.

How is male infertility treated?

Male infertility is most often treated by conventional methods that include one or more of the following:

  • Taking medications to help increase sperm production
  • Taking antibiotics to heal an infection
  • Taking hormones to improve hormone imbalance
  • Avoiding taking long hot showers, using hot tubs or saunas
  • Wearing looser underwear such as boxer shorts versus jockey shorts

Sperm production may also improve by taking clinically proven supplements. Anything that increases the number of healthy sperm increases the chances of conception.

Intrauterine insemination is an option if the man’s sperm count or movement is slightly low. In this procedure, sperm is collected through multiple ejaculations. Then after washing and concentrating the samples will be placed in the female’s uterus.

In vitro fertilization is another and better option that can be used to overcome male infertility factors. In this procedure, the sperm and egg are fertilized in a laboratory after which the fertilized egg (formed embryo) is placed in the female’s uterus.

There is usually nothing that can be done to prevent male infertility caused by genetic problems or illness. However, there are actions that men can take to decrease the possibility of infertility. These include:

  • Avoiding sexually transmitted diseases
  • Avoiding illicit drugs
  • Avoiding radiation when possible
  • Avoiding exposure to chemicals toxic substances
  • Avoiding use of alcohol
  • Observing good personal hygiene and health practices
  • Avoiding long, hot baths, hot tubs or saunas
  • Wearing loose-fitting underwear