Male infertility is a common problem; in fact, in couples with infertility issues, the male is at either the sole cause or a contributing factor in at least 40% of cases. Though some may see infertility as merely an inconvenience, it is actually a disease that affects the reproductive system that inhibits the body’s ability to perform basic reproductive functions.
Causes of male infertility
Causes of male infertility can be broadly divided into two basic types of causes: medical and lifestyle.
- Sperm abnormalities (poor motility, low count, abnormal shape, etc.)
- Sexually transmitted diseases and other infections
- Physical damage to the testes
- Retrograde ejaculation: This occurs when semen enters into the bladder instead of exiting the body through the penis during ejaculation.
- Genetic disease: This is a fairly rare cause, but it is still a possible one. Chromosomal disorders and cystic fibrosis are examples of illnesses that can cause male infertility.
- Blockages and birth defects
- Hormonal problems
- Sexual problems: Things like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation are two issues that can seriously affect a man’s fertility.
- Varicoceles: These are enlarged varicose veins in the scrotum that prevent proper blood flow. They are found in 40% of men being evaluated for infertility
- Smoking, use of marijuana and other recreational drugs, and chronic alcohol abuse can cause infertility issues in both men and women.
- Use of anabolic steroids
- Not getting enough zinc and vitamin C in your diet.
- Prolonged elevation of scrotal temperature, which can be caused by wearing tight underwear, for example
- Anemia and malnutrition
- Environmental hazard and toxin exposure (things like heavy metals, mercury, boron, benzene, radioactive materials, pesticides, lead, and radiation).
- Too much stress
- Excessive exercise
Signs of male infertility
How do you know if you are suffering from infertility? While nothing can be conclusively determined without the input of a doctor, if you find yourself dealing with several of these symptoms, it may be time to seek out a medical opinion.
- You and your partner have been trying without success to conceive a child for at least one year.
- You have a lower than normal sperm count. A lower than normal sperm count is considered to be less that 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen OR a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculate.
- You show signs of a hormonal or chromosomal abnormality, such as decreased body and facial hair.
- Irregularities in your testicular area, including pain, lumps, or swelling.
- Recurrent respiratory infections
There are actually very few outward symptoms of male infertility; it may not even be a thought until you try to conceive a child with your partner. There are few warning signs, but in many, if not most cases, male infertility can be remedied to allow normal reproductive function.
Mayoclinic.org. Male Infertility Symptoms. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8olkNwXUJw.
McCoy, Krisha MS. What Causes Infertility in Men? Available from: http://www.everydayhealth.com/pregnancy/getting-pregnant/male-infertility.aspx.
Stanford.edu. What Causes Male Infertility? Available from: https://web.stanford.edu/class/siw198q/websites/reprotech/New%20Ways%20of%20Making%20Babies/causemal.htm.
Webmd.com (2012) Infertility and Men. Available from: http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/male-fertility-test.