18 Most Common Causes Of Male Infertility, And Treatment Options

Male Infertility

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Infertility in men is a major roadblock for couples planning to have a baby. And, while you may think that infertility in men means that you won’t be able to conceive, there are treatment methods available that can solve the problem.

Intrigued? Well, read on. Below, we touch on important aspects of male infertility, how it occurs and how you can treat it.

What Is Male Infertility?

Male infertility is the male’s inability to impregnate a woman. In the case of male infertility, conception does not occur despite regular intimacy for a long period.

[ Read: Fertility Drugs For Men ]

How Does It Occur?

Male infertility typically occurs in the case of:

  • Low sperm production
  • Abnormal sperm function
  • Absence of sperm in the semen

18 Most Common Causes Of Male Infertility:

Several factors contribute to the onset of infertility of men. Some of these factors typically include:

Medical Reasons:

Following are some of the medical reasons for male infertility:

1. Varicocele:

When the veins around the testicles swell, it is called a Variocele. The condition of Variocele results in the production of sperms of inferior quality.

2. Infection:

Some infections that affect sperm production and quality include:

  • Inflammation of the Epididymis (Epididymitis) or testicles (Orchitis)
  • Some sexually transmitted infections
  • Gonorrhoea
  • HIV

3. Ejaculation issues:

Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen enters the bladder instead of emerging out from the penis during the time of sexual excitement. Some health conditions that trigger retrograde ejaculation include:

  • Diabetes
  • Spinal Injuries
  • Medications
  • Surgery of the prostate, bladder or urethra.

[ Read: Smoking And Infertility ]

4. Tumours:

Non-malignant tumours or cancer affect male fertility. In some cases, surgery, radiation or chemotherapy to treat tumours also cause infertility in males.

5. Hormonal imbalance:

Hormonal imbalance of Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Thyroid and Adrenal glands also cause infertility.

6. Defects In The Tubules:

There are many tubular structures in a male reproductive system that carry sperms. When these tubes get blocked either due to surgery, injury, innately or due to abnormal development, infertility follows.

7. Chromosome defects:

Some other genetic causes of male infertility include:

  • Klinefelter’s Syndrome
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Kallmann’s syndrome
  • Kartagener’s syndrome

8. Problems Related With Intercourse:

Some of these problems also cause infertility:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Premature Ejaculation,
  • Anatomical issues such as Hypospadias
  • Psychological problems that reduce libido

9. Prior surgeries:

Certain surgeries can lead to infertility viz.

  • Vasectomy
  • Surgery to treat Inguinal Hernia
  • Testicular, Scrotal and Prostrate surgeries
  • Abdominal surgeries for testicular and rectal cancers

Environmental Reasons:

Exposure to heat, toxins and chemicals reduce sperm count.

1. Exposure To Chemicals:

Prolonged exposure to chemicals leads to low sperm counts.

2. Exposure To Metals:

Exposure to heavy metals like lead also causes infertility.

3. X-rays Or Radiation:

Exposure to radiation also reduces sperm count. With high doses of radiation, sperm production can be permanently impaired.

4. Overuse Of Gadgets:

Increased temperatures reduce sperm production. Wearing tight clothes or working on laptops or computers for long time periods also increase the temperature of the scrotum and reduce sperm production in a long run.

Lifestyle Reasons:

1. Stress:

Prolonged stress causes hormonal imbalance and thus reduces sperm count.

2. Obesity:

Overweight males are at a higher risk of developing infertility.

3. Alcohol:

If your partner consumes alcohol in large amounts, then ask him to reduce or stop his alcohol intake. Alcohol lowers sperm production in the body. Liver diseases caused due to excessive alcohol consumption also lead to fertility issues.

4. Drugs:

Drugs like cocaine and marijuana cause infertility by shrinking the testicles and thereby reducing sperm production. Also, drugs that induce growth and muscle stimulation also impair normal sperm production.

5. Tobacco:

Males who smoke are more susceptible to infertility.

Common Symptoms Of Male Infertility:

Some telltale signs of infertility in men include:

  • Problems in Normal Sexual Functions viz.
  • Ejaculation (small volumes of semen is ejaculated),
  • Reduced sexual desire
  • Difficulty maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Lump, Pain or Swelling in the testicles
  • Respiratory infections that are recurrent
  • Olfactory issues
  • Abnormal breast growth (Gynaecomastia)
  • Decreased body or facial hair
  • Chromosomal or Hormonal abnormality
  • Having lower sperm count (fewer than 15 million sperms per millilitre of semen or a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculation)

[ Read: Foods That Increases sperm Count ]

Diagnosing Infertility In Men:

Following are some of the tests and diagnostic measures that your doctor will suggest you to undergo to test infertility:

1. Semen Analysis:

Semen analysis test is necessary to determine the quality and quantity of the sperm.

2. Blood Test:

One of the major causes of infertility is a hormonal imbalance. Thus, the health expert might suggest you a blood test to evaluate hormonal imbalance in the body.

3. Imaging Tests:

Sometimes, the cause of male infertility is anatomical. Thus, imaging tests are done to check for any such issue.

4. Post-Ejaculation Urinalysis:

This test looks for sperms in the urine sample. If sperms are present in the urine, then this clearly indicates that your partner’s sperms are travelling backwards into the bladder instead of moving out his penis during the time of ejaculation. This phenomenon is also called Retrograde Ejaculation.

5. Scrotal Ultrasound:

In this test a high-frequency sound wave is used to produce images. The test is used to diagnose Varicocele in the testicles.

6. Transrectal Ultrasound:

Prostate ultrasound is also called Transrectal ultrasound. It takes images of a man’s prostate gland and the tissues in the surrounding area. An Ultrasound Probe is inserted into the rectum of the patient to test for infertility.

7. Testicular Biopsy:

In this test the pathologist will take some sample from the testicles with the help of a needle to test normal sperm production in the body. If the results are normal, then the cause of infertility might be a blockage in the sperm delivery system.

8. Genetic Tests:

A genetic test reveals the following anomalies:

  • DNA fragmentation
  • Chromosomal Defect
  • Genetic Diseases

Male Infertility Treatment Options:

Some of the male infertility treatments include:

1. Surgery:

If there is a varicocele condition or an obstructed vas deferens in your partner, then the doctor will suggest a surgery to treat it. Also, prior vasectomies can be reversed. In some cases where no sperm is present in the semen, sperms can be retrieved directly from the testicles or epididymis. Such techniques are called sperm retrieval techniques.

2. Treating Infections:

Antibiotics are prescribed to cure any infection of the reproductive system.

3. Treatment For Intercourse Issues:

Medication and sometimes counselling sessions are used to treat patients with erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.

4. Hormone Treatments:

Your doctor might suggest a hormone replacement therapy or will prescribe some medicines to treat hormonal imbalance.

5. Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART):

In this treatment, the sperm is surgically extracted from the normal ejaculate. Sometimes a donor is also used. The sperms are inserted into the female body. The doctor might perform IVF or in vitro fertilisation and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection in some cases.

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[ Read: Does Marijuana Affect Fertility ]

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