So, what causes infertility in men? If you are in the point where you need to ask yourself this question, you might be one of the unfortunate men who experience this medical problem.
Around 15% of couples are infertile. This means that they aren`t able to conceive a child even if they have unprotected sexual contacts for a year or more. In about half of these couples, male infertility plays an important role.
Table of Contents
What Is Infertility in Men?
Infertility in men represents the impossibility of conception in the couple after at least 12 months of attempts. In men, the inability for procreation occurs as a consequence of disturbed hormonal activity, damage of the glands which produce sperm, or as a result of trauma or surgery, which may alter the genital system`s anatomy. Although it`s frequently associated with impotence, it`s good to know that men many who are infertile have perfectly normal sexual relationships.
Studies made in the United States and several countries from Europe have concluded that infertility in men has an incidence of 20% to 30%.
Infertility in men is diagnosed when reproductive issues have been found in them after both partners were tested.
Categories of Male Infertility
- Lack of sperm, also known as azoospermia, represents around 3% or 4$ of infertility in men.
- Insufficient sperm, known as oligospermia as well, or poor sperm quality – astenozoospermia, teratozoospermia (high abnormal sperm count) and reduced sperm motility. This particular subcategory encompasses around 90% of the causes that involve male infertility.
- Sperm dysfunction – sperm is completely lacking or has reduced ability of being fertile, despite an apparent normality. This cause represents about 3% – 6% of cases.
- Inability to ejaculate represents around 4% to 6% of cases.
What Causes Infertility in Men?
According to UMM, over 90% of cases of infertility in men are because of the poor sperm quality, sperm counts, or both. The remaining cases may be caused by a large range of medical conditions that include genetic defects, anatomical issues or hormonal imbalances.
Causes Related to Sperm Abnormalities
- Inability to penetrate the egg.
- Functional sperm abnormalities.
- Low sperm production or absent.
- Inappropriate sperm motility.
Without a sufficient number of healthy spermatozoids, the fertilization chances are very low.
Causes Related to Sexual Issues
- Sexual dysfunctions represent a cause of infertility for around 20% of infertile men.
- Pain during sexual contact.
- Lack of libido.
- Premature ejaculation.
- Delayed ejaculation.
- Inability to maintain an erection.
- Retrograde ejaculation.
Most of the above sexual issues can be treated, therefore reducing the infertility risk.
- Testicular trauma.
- Testicular torsion.
- Testicular feminization.
- Partially/completely unobstructed testicles.
- Reversal of vasectomy.
- Testicular cancer.
- Veneric diseases.
- Recurrent prostate infections
- Chronic prostate infections.
- Human papilloma virus.
- Glandular infections.
Mumps, brucellosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, flu, syphilis, gonorrhea and smallpox can lead to testicular atrophy.
Some specialists consider that the immune response of the body to infection might release a series of oxidizing or flammable factors, particles that are chemically unstable and which might damage the sperm`s functionality and structure.
- Some medications might lead to side effects, which in turn lead to nervous tension and an increased risk of malfunctioning organs and psychological issues: anxiety, stress and emotional instability.
- The obsession of a perfect physical shape may affect the natural of gonadotrophic hormone production, causing delayed sperm, sperm abnormalities or nutritional deficiencies.
- Stress interferes with the production process of gonadotropin-releasing hormones and decreases the healthy sperm number. The conception failure attracts emotional tension which leads to emotional and hormonal imbalance.
- Depression leads to an increased production of a specific hormone in the nervous system as well as certain glandular hormones which lead to a significant hormonal imbalance, decreasing the number of spermatozoids.
- Sperm agglutination.
- Testicular injury
- Testicular cancer.
- Anti-sperm antibodies.
- Chromosome Y microdeletions.
- Chromosomal translocation.
- Klinefelter syndrome.
- Kallmann syndrome.
- Congenital abnormalities caused by diethylstilbestrol exposure.
- Analoid steroids.
- Toxic substances related to chemotherapy.
- Maternal exposure.
- Drugs for blood pressure.
Causes Related to Medical Affections
- Nervous disorders.
- Blockages & obstructions.
- Cystic fibrosis.
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism.
- Pituitary tumors.
- Testicular cancer.
- Altered metabolism of sex steroids.
- Adrenal tumors.
- Pituitary adenomas.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Injury to the spinal cord.
Overexposure to specific elements regarding the environment, like toxins, chemicals or heat, might reduce the production or function of sperm. These particular causes include:
- Industrial chemicals.
- Exposure to heavy metals.
- X-rays or radiation.
- Overheating of the testicles.
- Illegal drugs.
- Alcohol abuse.
- Emotional stress.
- Long term cycling.
Infertility can be quite stressful for both you and your life partner. Complications can include:
- Stress and difficult relationships related to the inability of having a child.
- Surgery or other medical procedures used to treat a cause involving low sperm count or any other reproductive issues.
- A high risk of developing cancer (e.g. prostate cancer).
- Expensive reproductive methods (e.g. IVF).
Can a Sterile Man Get a Woman Pregnant?
Sterility translates by difficult or no ability to conceive. It can be noted that the sterility and impotence of a man are 2 distinct terms. Sterility represents the meaning of the inability to impregnate a woman, while impotence represents his inability of gratifying her. An impotent man can be sterile. When it comes to conception, only the semen discharge with living spermatozoids is needed. It doesn`t really matter if the erection is strong or if the woman is satisfied. The sterility in the male part represents the absence of living spermatozoids in the semen. They are either dead or they aren`t present at all. In this case, males cannot produce no matter how virile they might be.
How to Check Male Infertility?
- Scrotal ultrasound – This particular test uses sound waves of high frequency in order produce images inside the body. Such an ultrasound can help a doctor notice if there`s a varicocele or any other issues in your testicles and its supporting structures.
- Hormone testing – The hypothalamus and testicles, which are hormones produced by the pituitary gland, play a crucial role in the production of sperm and sexual development. Any anomalies in other organ or hormonal systems may contribute to male infertility as well. A blood test will measure the testosterone level as well as that of other hormones.
- Post-ejaculation urinalysis – The occurrence of sperm in urine might show that sperm is traveling backwards into your bladder and not out of the penis during the ejaculation process, a condition that is known as retrograde ejaculation.
- Genetic tests – If the concentration of sperm is very low, it may be genetically related. A blood test can show if there`re subtle changes in the Y chromosome – symptoms of genetic malformation. Genetic testing may required to diagnose various inherited or congenital syndromes.
- Testicular biopsy – This particular test will involve removing samples from one the testicles using a needle. If the results show that the production of sperm is in normal levels, the issues is most likely caused by a specific blockage or another issue regarding sperm transport. Still, this specific test isn`t used to diagnose the infertility cause on a common basis.
- Specialized sperm function tests – There are several tests which can be used in order to check if sperm survives after ejaculation, if there is any issue attached to the egg, and how well spermatozoids can penetrate the egg. Generally speaking, these particular tests are performed rather early and often don`t really change the treatment recommendations.
- Transrectal ultrasound – A small wand, which is lubricated, is inserted into the rectum. It allows the doctor to verify the prostate, and check for tube blockages which carry semen.
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