What causes male infertility?
Male infertility usually occurs when the sperm is abnormal, there is a problem in the number of sperm produced or there is problem with ejaculation.
Abnormal sperm occurs when the sperm has a short lifespan or they are malformed which prohibits them from swimming correctly. Abnormal sperm may be caused by one or more of the following:
- Inflammation of the testicles
- Swollen veins in the scrotum
- Abnormally developed testicles
The reasons that there may be a low sperm count or no sperm at all include one or more of the following:
- A preexisting genetic condition
- Use of alcohol, tobacco or other illicit drugs
- A severe mumps infection
- A hormone disorder
- Exposure to poisonous chemicals
- Exposure to radiation
- Blockage caused from a previous infection
- Wearing restrictive or tight underwear
Male infertility also occurs when there are problems with ejaculation that prohibits the sperm from getting into the woman’s vagina. Ejaculation problems include any of the following:
- Premature ejaculation
- Retrograde ejaculation, which occurs when the semen is forced back into the bladder
- Erection dysfunctions
- A complication from radiation therapy or surgery
How is male infertility diagnosed?
Potential male infertility will be assessed as part of a thorough physical. The exam will include a medical history regarding potential factors that could contribute to infertility.
Your healthcare provider may use one or more of the following tests to assess your fertility condition:
- A semen analysis to assess the number and quality of sperm
- A blood test to check for infections or hormone problems
- A culture of fluid from the penis to further check for infections
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 sperm production
- Taking antibiotics to remove an infection
- Taking hormones to help with a hormone imbalance
- Avoiding long hot showers, use of hot tubs or saunas
- Wearing looser clothing such as boxer shorts versus jockey shorts
Artificial insemination may be used if the man’s sperm count is low. Sperm may be collected through more than one ejaculation. It is then manually placed in the female’s uterus or fallopian tubes to help facilitate conception.
Can male infertility be prevented?
There is usually nothing you can do to prevent male infertility that is caused by genetic problems or an illness. There are things that men can do to decrease the likelihood that they experience an infertility issue:
- Avoid sexually transmitted diseases
- Avoid illicit drugs
- Avoid exposure to radiation
- Avoid exposure to poisonous substances
- Avoid heavy or frequent alcohol use
- Keep good personal hygiene and health practices
- Avoid long, hot baths, hot tubs or saunas
- Wear boxers versus jockey shorts