Question

Male Infertility

What causes infertility in men?

A Answers (9)

  • AMichael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    Many things can cause male infertility. That's because the journey a sperm takes to fertilize an egg isn't as simple as swimming a lap in a pool; it's more like crossing the English Channel without a wetsuit. Lots of things have to go right to get from one shoreline to the other.

    There are two common problems:
    Low sperm count, which means that without as many swimmers, there's less of a chance one will reach the finish.

    Lack of sperm mobility, which means the sperm simply don't have the strength to make the entire journey, and those cells die before they reach the shore.
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  • A variety of factors can cause infertility in men. When men are infertile, it means there is a problem with their sperm that makes them unable to fertilize an egg. Sometimes problems in the scrotum or testicles may affect the amount of sperm produced, or it can affect the shape and structure of sperm, making them unable to properly fertilize the egg. Certain genetic conditions or hormone deficiencies can also cause defects in the sperm themselves. Other times, medical and psychological conditions may cause problems with the way sperm is delivered. For instance, things like diabetes or injuries may cause a lack of semen or may interrupt the flow of semen out of the penis. Some cases of infertility in men are caused by environmental or lifestyle factors, including exposure to certain chemicals, stress, smoking, drug or alcohol use, and aging.

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  • APravin Rao, MD, Urology, answered on behalf of Johns Hopkins Medicine

    As one might expect, infertility in men can be due to many different causes. Sometimes, multiple factors may be contributing to a man's infertility. Testis development during infancy and childhood infections such as mumps can have fertility ramifications many years later.

    There are a few additional conditions that may affect a man’s infertility, including:

    • Current or previous medical conditions and cancers—often previously undetected—might affect sperm production
    • Men who undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments can have long-standing testicular damage
    • Environmental or work-related exposures can affect testicular function
    • Various hormonal abnormalities can have large effects on sperm production
    • Anatomical conditions such as varicocele can lower sperm counts or affect sperm function.

    Sometimes, even though sperm is being produced normally, a blockage might be preventing the sperm from reaching the ejaculate. Such blockages can be due to previous infections, previous surgical procedures, or congenital causes. Finally, other men might not be able to reach orgasm, or might have functional defects preventing the proper outflow of sperm with orgasm.

  • There are several causes of male infertility. These causes include physical abnormalities, hormonal imbalance, lifestyle factors, and psychological or behavioral problems. Physical abnormalities include damaged sperm ducts and a condition called varicocele in which veins around one testicle are enlarged. Hormonal imbalances can be due to a thyroid problem or pituitary gland malfunction. Lifestyle factors that reduce fertility include tobacco use, marijuana use, and alcohol abuse. There are several other factors as well. For more information schedule a visit with your doctor.
  • ALIVESTRONG answered
    Infertility in men can be caused by a number of factors including:
    Genetic: Male infertility can be inherited, especially when
           Y-chromosomes are missing a tiny piece of genetic code. Men
           who have genetic causes of infertility may pass the problem
           to their sons if they are able to father a child through
           infertility treatments. Hormonal: Men whose hormones are out of balance can become
           infertile. This can sometimes be related to cancer or
           treatment. Physical: There may be physical reasons such as problems with
           the tubes that form the pathway for sperm to travel to the
           areas near the prostate. These tubes can be blocked by scar
           tissue after injury or infection. Lower sperm counts can also
           be caused by varicoceles or clusters of enlarged veins in the
           testicles. Disease-related: Some diseases or illnesses can cause lower
           sperm counts such as cancer, diabetes, mumps orchitis or
           tuberculosis. Environmental: Exposure to environmental factors can affect
           fertility such as high heat, radiation or pesticides. Lifestyle factors: Obesity, tobacco use, heavy drinking, or using
           anabolic steroids for body-building can affect fertility. Age: Semen quality may decrease with age. Cancer and treatment for cancer: Some types of cancer
           treatment may interfere with a man's fertility, either
           temporarily or permanently.
  • Infertility in men is most often caused by:

    A problem called varicocele: This happens when the veins on a man's testicle(s) are too large. This heats the testicles. The heat can affect the number or shape of the sperm. Other factors that cause a man to make too few sperm or none at all. Movement of the sperm: This may be caused by the shape of the sperm. Sometimes injuries or other damage to the reproductive system block the sperm.

    Sometimes a man is born with the problems that affect his sperm. Other times problems start later in life due to illness or injury. For example, cystic fibrosis often causes infertility in men.

    This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information.

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  • AErika Tabke, MSN, Nursing, answered on behalf of Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)

    The three most common causes of male infertility are:

    • the body's inability to make healthy sperm,
    • the body's inability to make a sufficient number of sperm, and
    • the inability of the man's body to transport the sperm to the semen and then out of the body.
    There are a variety of medical issues that can cause some or all of these three general problems.
    • The inability to make healthy sperm can be caused by a variety of issues, including a hormonal imbalances, inherited chromosome abnormalities, certain medications, exposure to adverse environmental elements, and other more rare complications.
    • An insufficient number of sperm may be related to many of the issues in the point above, as well as physical problems within the scrotum (such as swelling, physical trauma or immunological issues).
    • Problems delivering the sperm into the woman's body can include swelling and physical trauma, retrograde ejaculation where the sperm are directed into the bladder rather than out of the body, or blockages or sperm duct defects.

    A standard set of diagnostic exams are typically sufficient to identify the cause of an individual's male infertility. Once the specific causes are identified, a doctor can then recommend a variety of treatment options.

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  • Infertility can be classifed as pre-testicular, testicular and post-testicular.  

    Pre-testicular means there may be a problem in the hormonal balance in your body because the hypothalamus and pituitary in the brain controls testis sperm and testosterone production. 
     
    Testicular means there is a congenital or acquired reason for the testicles to not produce adequate numbers or normal sperms.

    Post-testicular means there is a blockage or problem with the tract that the sperms have to travel from the testis to the tip of the penis, including such issues such as previous vasectomy, hernia surgery, ejaculatory duct obstruction, retrograde ejaculation, etc.
     
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  • AKevin Windom, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology, answered

    The most common cause of male infertility is a low sperm count. Some men can have a problem with decreased motility or abnormal morphology(shape) of the sperm. Men can have sperm abnormalities for numerous reasons such as previous injury to the testicles, numerous medical conditions, abnormal male anatomy, or a varicocele (dilated blood vessel around the testicles).  If a man has an abnormal sperm count, I think it is important for him to seek care from an urologist whose specialty is male factor infertility. There are numerous treatments that can be performed that can easily effect the sperm count and remedy male infertility.

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