Infertility affects approximately 1 out of every 6 couples. An infertility diagnosis is given to a couple who are unable to conceive over the course of one year. When the problem lies with the male partner it is referred to as male infertility. Male infertility factors contribute to approximately 30% of all infertility cases, and male infertility alone accounts for approximately one-fifth of all infertility cases.
Male infertility usually occurs because of sperm that is abnormal, because of inadequate numbers of sperm or problems with ejaculation. Sperm can be considered abnormal for two possible reasons: unusually short life span of the sperm and or low mobility.
Sperm abnormalities may be caused by
• Inflammation of the testicles
• Swollen veins in the scrotum
• Abnormally developed testicles
Reasons for a low sperm count
or lack of sperm
• A pre-existing genetic condition
• Use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
• Severe mumps infection after puberty
• Hernia repairs
• Hormone disorder
• Exposure to poisonous chemicals
• Exposure to radiation
• A blockage caused by a previous infection
• Wearing restrictive or tight underwear
• Injury to the groin area
• Male infertility can also occur when there are problems with ejaculation.
Other causes of male infertility can include:
How is male infertility diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider may use one or more of the following tests to assess fertility :
1. Semen analysis to determine the number and quality of sperm
2. A blood test to check for infections or hormone problems.
3. Making a culture of fluid from the penis to check for infections
4. Physical examination of the penis, scrotum, and prostate
Can male infertility be prevented?
There is usually nothing that can be done to prevent male infertility caused by genetic problems or illness. However, there are actions that men can take to decrease the possibility of infertility.
• Avoiding sexually transmitted diseases
• Avoiding illicit drugs
• Avoiding radiation when possible
• Avoiding exposure to toxic substances
• Avoiding heavy or frequent use of alcohol
• Observing good personal hygiene and health practices
• Avoiding long, hot baths, hot tubs
• Wearing loose-fitting underwear
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