For so long there has been the thought by many that infertility is just down to a woman, but this is not the case at all. The fact is that around 40% of fertility issues within couples is caused by an issue that a man may have and yet may have absolutely idea at all about it, and certainly no symptoms.
So what are the common causes of infertility in men?
Male infertility is usually caused by issues with the semen and the sperm and here we outline why.
Semen and sperm
The most common cause of male infertility is low-quality semen, which is the fluid that contains sperm, or the sperm. This can be caused by the following:
- A low sperm count, or no sperm at all
- Low motility, which means that the sperm do not move towards the egg correctly
- Poor morphology, which means that the sperm are an abnormal shape
- Unexplained sperm problems
Increased scrotum temperate causes a reduced sperm and semen quality, but it has not been proven that wearing boxers of loose underpants improves male fertility.
Other causes of infertility in men include the following:
A man’s testicles produce and store sperm, and if they are injured or damaged, they can affect the sperm and semen quality. This can be a result of an infection, an injury, or a congenital defect in your testicles. Testicular cancer can also can infertility, as can having undescended testicles (in which when one or both testicles have not descended into the scrotum).
An ejaculation problem, which can be mental or physical, can prevent a man from ejaculating during sex, or even masturbation.
Some men elect to undergo a vasectomy procedure, which cuts and seals the vas deferens, preventing your semen from containing sperm. Vasectomies can be reversed in some cases, but reversals are not usually successful.
Hypogonadism refers to having an extremely low level of testosterone, which is the male sex hormone required to produce sperm. It can be caused by taking illegal drugs, a tumour, or Klinefelter syndrome, which is a rare syndrome in which a male has an extra female chromosome.
Medicines and drugs
Prescribed medicines and illegal street drugs can affect your fertility in both the short and long term. This include (but are not limited to):
- Anabolic steroids – While they can be prescribed legally, anabolic steroids are often used illegally. They are used to improve sport performance and to build muscle mass. However, long term use or abuse of these steroids can lead to low sperm count and motility.
- Sulfasalazine – This anti-inflammatory medicine is prescribed to treat Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. It can temporarily decrease sperm count, but most men find that their sperm count bounces back to normal about two months after ceasing treatment.
- Chemotherapy – The medicines used in chemo can dramatically lower sperm count and quality.
- Herbal remedies – Certain root extracts of the Chinese herb Tripterygium wilfordii can reduce your testicular size, and halt the production of sperm.
- Illegal drugs – Drugs, including cocaine and marijuana, can negatively impact semen quality.