Pregnancy Information




Male Causes of Infertility

Common Reasons for Male Conception Difficulties
There are many reasons why a man may have difficulty with fertility. Fortunately, once diagnosed, some of these causes may be treatable.

Many fertility issues are related to sperm disorders.
A major

cause of fertility problems can be related to sperm disorder. Of the millions of sperm normally deposited into the vagina, only a few hundred will get close to the egg and have a chance to fertilize it. Many factors play a role in determining whether or not the sperm will succeed.

  • Sperm count (number of sperm)
  • Sperm motility (ability to move)
  • Forward progression (quality of movement)
  • Sperm size and shape

A deficiency in any of these factors may cause fertility difficulties. Although sperm count is important, sperm motility and forward progression appear to be even more crucial in determining the likelihood of whether or not the sperm will succeed in fertilizing the egg. Despite a low sperm count, many men with high quality sperm may still be fertile.

All kinds of factors can cause sperm disorders.
A variety of conditions can play in a role in causing sperm disorders.

Generally, a man's fertility starts declining at around age 35 as the quality of a man's sperm may diminish. In addition, sperm motility can also decline with age.[1]

Immunological disorders
Problems with the immune system can cause a man's body to treat sperm as if it were a foreign matter. As a result, the immune system may produce antibodies to fight and destroy the sperm.

Cancer treatments
Depending upon the location of the treatment and the drug and dosage used, chemotherapy and radiation may contribute to fertility problems. Fertile Hope is a non-profit organization that provides information and support for cancer patients regarding fertility.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
STDs may damage the parts of the body that transport sperm through the reproductive tract.

Lifestyle and environmental factors may also cause fertility problems.
High temperatures; Smoking, alcohol and drug use may also have a negative impact on man's fertility.
Prolonged exposure to high heat from hot baths, steam rooms, or even tight underwear may lower sperm production.

Occupational risks
Exposure to toxic substances on the job, such as pesticides, radioactivity, x-rays, and electromagnetic, or microwave emissions may lead to sperm abnormalities. If you've been exposed or if you're concerned about occupational hazards, talk to your healthcare provider.

Diseases, drug use, and medications
Occasionally, the presence of diseases such as diabetes, central nervous system problems, and pituitary tumors may affect a man's fertility. In addition, some drugs for heart disease and high blood pressure may also be risk factors.

A number of lubricants used during intercourse, such as petroleum jelly or vaginal creams, have been shown to have a negative effect on sperm quality.

Anatomical problems may also cause fertility problems.
Scrotal varicocele
Varicocele is one of the most commonly identifiable causes of male infertility. Varicocele is a varicose vein around a testicle that may hinder sperm production. It is found in about 15% of normal males and in approximately 40% of infertile men, most often on the left side or simultaneously on both sides.[2]

Retrograde ejaculation
Retrograde ejaculation involves the ejaculate flowing backward into the bladder instead of leaving the penis.

Undescended testis
An undescended testis is one that has failed to complete its normal passage from within the abdomen to reach its normal position in the scrotum. This condition is present in about 3% of newborns, with fewer than 1% needing treatment. Testicles that don't descend into the scrotum are not likely to function normally. Because they may not make sperm, they can cause fertility difficulties.[3]

Erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or maintain an erection. An erection is essential for ejaculation.

When you should see a healthcare provider.
You should see a healthcare provider anytime you have concerns about your fertility. Don't wait! You may wish to see a healthcare provider if any of the following risk factors apply to you:

  1. History of sexually transmitted disease
  2. History or pelvic/genital infection
  3. Previous abdominal surgery
  4. Reversal of surgical sterilization
  5. Chronic medical condition (e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure)
  6. History of chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  7. Mumps after puberty
  8. Previous urologic surgery
  9. Prostate infection
  10. Family history of cystic fibrosis or other genetic disorders

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