For the longest time, infertility was believed to be a woman’s health issue. However, male infertility is responsible for several cases of unsuccessful conception world over. There are several causes of infertility in males that need to be understood in order to provide correct diagnosis and treatment options.
Common Causes Of Male Infertility
There are multiple causes of male infertility. Listed below are some of them:
Causes related to health and medical reasons:
- The nerves near the testicle swell and drain out the testicle leading to the condition called varicocele. This is a very common cause of infertility in males that can be reversed.
- Any infection of the testicles or the epididymis can affect sperm health and count.
- Issues with ejaculation such as retrograde ejaculation where the semen returns into the bladder or low volume of semen during ejaculation can lead to infertility.
- In some cases, the immune system produces anti-sperm antibodies. They identify the sperms as invaders and eliminate them.
- Any type of tumor that is malignant will affect the reproductive system as it affects the production of several sex hormones.
- A birth defect called undescended testicles is one of the most common causes of infertility in males.
- Hormonal imbalances due to low testosterone production or issues with the pituitary glands, the hypothalamus, thyroid glands, and adrenal glands can lead to infertility.
- Any blockage in the tubes or passageways that the sperm travel through makes it impossible to fertilize the egg.
- Cancer medication, anabolic steroids, and other medications can affect sperm health and sperm count.
- Prior surgeries such as abdominal surgeries or prostate surgeries can lead to scar tissues that cause blockages.
Also Read: In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF): Procedure, Preparation & Risks
Environmental Factors of Male Infertility
- Exposure to industrial chemicals like pesticides, benzene, organic solvents and even painting material for a long time can reduce the sperm count.
- Exposure to heavy metals can cause infertility.
- Exposure to X-rays or radiation is likely to cause low sperm count and compromised sperm health.
- Overheating of the testicles due to tight clothing, placing the laptop on the lap or even visiting saunas too often lead to an increase in the temperature of the scrotum. This can affect sperm count.
Other Causes of Male Impotency or Infertility
- Use of drugs and alcohol and excessive smoking can lead to infertility. Drugs can even lead to the shrinking of the testicles that in turn leads to a low sperm count.
- Emotional stress is one of the most common causes of infertility in males.
- Mental health issues such as depression lead to sexual dysfunction. They reduce sexual desire and can even lead to issues like erectile dysfunction.
- Obesity can affect the health of the sperm and can even lead to the production of certain hormones that cause infertility.
Also Read: Effective Tips to Improve Fertility
Signs and Symptoms Of Male Infertility
There are some early male infertility symptoms that can be observed, such as:
- Issues with sexual function such as erectile dysfunction, a small volume of semen ejaculated and lack of sexual desire.
- Formation of lumps or any pain and swelling in the testicles.
- Recurring infections of the respiratory system.
- Loss of sense of smell.
- Abnormal growth of the breast also called Gynecomastia.
- Signs of hormonal imbalance or chromosomal abnormalities such as sudden loss of body and facial hair.
- Sperm count that is less than the average 15 million sperms per millimeter of the sperm.
Must Read: Foods to Increase Male Fertility (Sperm Count)
Types Of Male Infertility
There are broadly three types of male infertility:
- Low Sperm Count: This is when the body is unable to produce as many sperms as necessary. A man is said to have a low sperm count when the number of sperms per ejaculate is less than 39 million.
- Abnormality in the shape of the sperm: Due to external factors such as heat or chemical exposure, the shape of the sperm may become abnormal leading to infertility.
- Sperm movement: In this type of male infertility, the sperm count is normal. However, due to low mobility, the sperm is unable to enter the uterus.
Diagnosis And Treatment
Based on the male infertility symptoms, several steps are followed to diagnose the condition:
- A physical examination is conducted to rule out issues like tumors.
- A semen and sperm analysis is carried out to check the sperm count, movement of sperm and shape of the sperms.
- A hormone evaluation is carried out.
- Testicular biopsy is advised for men who have an extremely low sperm count.
- Genetic testing can be recommended to determine the causal factors of infertility.
Based on the test results and other factors like the age of the individual, treatment options such as medication and surgery may be provided.
In case of irreversible infertility assisted reproduction technology and artificial insemination may be recommended. For men especially, behavior therapy accompanies any of the treatment options provided above.
Also Read: Contraceptive Pills – Usage, Side Effects
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