What are the Most Common Causes of Male Infertility?

What are the Most Common Causes of Male Infertility?

Even though the tendency is to think of infertility as the woman’s problem, that’s actually not accurate. In up to half of infertile couples, male infertility is part of — and sometimes the only — cause.

A diagnosis of infertility can be devastating for anyone. At Lake Mary Gynecology in Lake Mary, Florida, our expert gynecologist, Sonia Enriquez, MD, helps couples navigate this diagnosis and find the best ways to start or continue their families, regardless of infertility challenges.

If your partner — or you — are a male who’s been diagnosed with infertility, here’s what you should know about why that may happen, and what you can do about it.

Missing or misshapen sperm

One of the most common causes of male infertility is problems with the sperm themselves. Men without fertility challenges produce about 200 million sperm per ejaculation. The numbers are high to increase the odds of one sperm being able to reach and fertilize the woman’s egg.

Not producing enough sperm is a condition known as oligospermia. Some men even have no sperm at all in their ejaculate, a condition called azoospermia. Even if you have enough sperm, if they’re abnormally shaped or don’t move well, they can’t fertilize the egg. 

When a man has problems with sperm count, shape, or motility, there could be many reasons. Some men are born with sperm problems. However, lifestyle factors could also be at play. We may recommend:

In some cases, the medications a man takes for other health conditions could affect the number or quality of his sperm. We may adjust medications to see if sperm count, motility, or shape improves. Physical impediments

Even if sperm is normal, if a man’s reproductive system has structural abnormalities, they may inhibit the sperm from leaving his body. A prior infection, for instance, may have left scar tissue that blocks the vas deferens tubes or other structures.

When evaluating male fertility problems, doctors conduct tests to analyze how well the ejaculate travels from the testes through the penis. Blockages could be caused by:

Some men have a condition called retrograde ejaculation, in which their ejaculate travels backwards, toward the bladder, instead of out of the penis. Scar tissue, tumors, and other types of physical blockages can often be resolved through surgery.

Hormonal imbalances

As men age, just like women, their hormones shift. A key hormone for male sexual health is testosterone (T). Age and health issues may lower a man’s level of T so that he begins to experience problems with his energy and sexuality. Low T can even affect his ability to achieve and maintain an erection, a condition known as erectile dysfunction (ED). 

If low T is an issue, however, we don’t recommend testosterone replacement therapy. Testosterone replacement may actually lower sperm count. Instead, concentrate on developing a healthier lifestyle with plenty of exercise and fresh foods, attaining a healthy weight, and getting enough sleep.

When lifestyle changes and treatments don’t resolve male infertility, we may recommend assisted reproductive technologies (ART), including artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization. In some cases, you may need to use donor sperm rather than your partner’s sperm.

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant without success, contact us for infertility evaluation and treatments today. Phone our helpful staff or use our convenient online booking form.

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