What Causes Infertility in Men?

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causes of infertility in men

Infertility is not only a woman’s problem. Men may also be infertile. Men and women both can equally have infertility problems.

About one-third of infertility conditions are linked to female infertility, and men’s issues account for the other third of infertility conditions.

The remaining third of cases can take place because of a combination of male and female infertility, or they may have an unknown cause.

We will discuss here infertility causes and treatment in men. 

Causes of Infertility in Men

Commonly, infertility in men is associated with the following issues:

  • Structural defects in sperm
  • Count of sperm, or the number of sperm
  • Sperm’s shape
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Movement of the sperm including both wiggling movement of the sperm themselves and transport of sperm through the tubes of the male reproductive system

Various risk factors, medical conditions, and medications are involved that will affect fertility.

Risk factors

Risk factors linked with infertility in men include, but is not limited to:

  • Ageing 
  • Cigarettes
  • Heavy consumption of alcohol
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Exposure to toxins, like herbicides, pesticides, and other heavy metals

Medical conditions

Some examples of medical cases that cause male infertility include:

  • Retrograde ejaculation
  • Varicocele, or the swelling of veins near the testicles
  • Testicles that have not descended into the scrotum
  • Having antibodies that harm your sperm and eliminates them
  • A hormonal imbalance, like low testosterone production

Medications and drugs

Various medications and drugs can affect male fertility, involving:

  • Radiation therapy or chemotherapy for cancer
  • Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine, Azulfidine EN-Tabs), for ulcerative colitis (UC) 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Anabolic steroids, for enhanced athletic performance or hormonal issues such as delayed puberty
  • Recreational drugs like marijuana and cocaine

One of these things, or a combination of them, can cause infertility in men.

Infertility Testing in Men

Men must consult a doctor after a year of trying to conceive or if any of the following apply:

  • Erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • Issues with ejaculation, like delayed ejaculation or retrograde ejaculation
  • Low sex drive
  • Swelling or pain in the genital area
  • Having undergone surgery in the genital area in the past

Your doctor shall first take your medical history. At this time, they shall ask questions relating to your overall health, your sexual history, and factors that can affect your fertility. They shall do a physical examination.

In this examination, they shall analyze your genitals for any structural abnormalities or lumps.

The doctor shall perform a semen test and ask you to give a sample of semen. The sample will be tested in a laboratory to see the amount of sperm that are present. Also, they will check whether the sperm are normally shaped and moving.

Based on the results of your initial exam and semen test, the doctor may do extra tests as well. These tests may include:

  • Hormone testing
  • Genital ultrasound
  • Genetic testing

Infertility Treatments for Men

Male infertility can be treated with different methods, based on the cause. Options of treatments for male infertility include medication, surgery and assisted reproductive technology (ART).

Surgery can fix obstructions that are preventing the sperm from being present in the ejaculate. It can correct conditions, including varicocele. A specialist may take sperm from testicles directly, after which it can be used in ART treatments.

Medications can treat issues such as hormonal imbalances. They can treat other conditions that can affect male fertility, such as ED or infections that affect sperm count.

ART refers to treatments in which sperm and eggs are handled outside the body. It includes treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment and intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

Sperm for ART treatments are taken from ejaculation, extraction from the testicles, or a donor.

Final Thoughts

Having diagnosed with infertility does not mean that your dreams of getting a child will not be fulfilled. It can take some time, but various couples who experience infertility will have a child in the end. Some will have by themselves, and others may require some medical assistance.

The treatment that is correct for you is based on several factors, involving your age, cause of infertility, and your personal preferences. Whether or not a specific infertility treatment results in pregnancy can be based on various factors.

Sometimes, you may not treat infertility problems. In these cases, your doctor can suggest you and your partner consider donor sperms or adoption.

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