Usually it is considered a case of infertility when a couple try to conceive children for a year or longer and fail to do so even though they have had frequent, unprotected sexual intercourse.
In over a third of these couples, male infertility plays a role. Infertility or sterility in men is a case when a man is not able to conceive mainly due to low sperm production.
Low sperm count is when a man has less than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen or a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculate.
However, there are many other causes to infertility in men, which we will discuss below.
Causes for Infertility in Men
- Low sperm production.
- Abnormal sperm function.
- A Defect of tubules that transport sperm, which causes blockage that prevents the delivery of sperm.
- Illnesses and chronic health issues such as celiac disease, diabetes, spinal injury, bladder surgery or prostate surgery, which can cause ejaculation issues.
- Lifestyle such as drug use, alcohol, smoking, stress, depression, obesity or overweight.
- Hormonal imbalance including low testosterone and thyroid disorders, which can affect male fertility.
- Varicocele – dilated veins around the testicle, which is the most common cause of male infertility.
- Inherited disorder.
- Retrograde ejaculation – when the semen enters the bladder during orgasm instead of coming out the penis.
- Problems with sexual intercourse that include erectile dysfunction – difficulty maintaining an erection, premature ejaculation, and painful intercourse.
- Psychological disorders or problems inside a relationship that interfere with sex.
- Exposure to high temperatures, since elevated temperatures will overheat the testicles and impair sperm production and function.
- Some infections including epididymitis or orchitis and some STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).
- Certain medications such as Testosterone replacement therapy, chemotherapy, and some antifungal medications.
- An autoimmune disorder in which the immune system produces Anti-sperm antibodies that mistakenly identify sperm as harmful invaders and attack them.
- Tumors and nonmalignant tumors can directly affect the male reproductive organs.
- Extended exposure to industrial chemicals such as benzene, pesticides, organic solvents, and painting materials may contribute to low sperm count.
- Exposure to heavy metals or radiation.
- Usually the main sign to infertility is the inability to conceive a child.
- Sexual dysfunction such as difficulty with ejaculation or low volumes of ejaculated fluid – semen.
- Low sex drive.
- Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicle area.
- Recurrent respiratory infections may indicate problems with fertility.
- Abnormal breast growth (gynecomastia).
- Decreased facial or body hair due to hormonal abnormality.
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