12 Common Causes of Male Infertility
Out of every six couples in Australia, one of them struggles with infertility.
Out of those couples, the cause of infertility ends up being attributed to the male partner approximately 40% of the time. This is about the same frequency of infertility in females with the remaining 20% being attributed to a mixture of male and female infertility.
There are many different reasons that a male may struggle with infertility and the first step in treating it is to find the cause of the infertility.
1. Problems with Sperm
The most common issue that men experience that causes infertility is a problem with sperm. Sperm is the male reproductive cell found in semen.
There are a variety of things that can negatively impact the sperm and therefore reduce the chances of achieving a pregnancy.
2. Sperm Production Problems
Often times, if there is a problem relating to sperm, it is an issue that occurs when the sperm is being produced.
Sometimes, a man may not produce any sperm at all which would make it impossible to achieve a pregnancy. This may occur due to a chromosomal issue or genetic issue. A complete lack of sperm can also result from undescended testes or torsion which is the twisting of the testes in the scrotum.
While all of these things may lead to a complete lack of sperm, it is more likely that they simply lead to a lower sperm count which makes it more difficult to achieve pregnancy, but not altogether impossible.
Infections, radiation damage, certain medicines and chemicals, as well as even varicoseveins in the testes can also lead to problems with sperm production.
3. Low Sperm Quality
Sperm production problems aren’t always related to the number of sperm, though.
Sometimes, a problem with sperm production actually leads to a lower-quality sperm which isn’t able to work properly. This can be sperm that is misshapen, ineffective, or even just sperm that is slow.
All of these things can result from sperm production issues and lead to problems with infertility.
4. Problems with Sperm Transportation
Even when sperm count is normal and the sperm are healthy without any issues, there can still be problems with the transportation of the sperm.
One possible problem that causes infertility in relation to sperm transportation is the absence of the vas deferens. This is a duct, or tube, that sperm travels through before going into the urethra to exit the body.
Things like infections and prostrate-related problems can also cause blockages that can lead to issues with the transportation of sperm.
5. Sperm Antibodies
One more problem with the sperm that can cause infertility in men is the creation of sperm antibodies.
Occasionally, a man’s body may create antibodies against his own sperm. This can happen as a result of a couple of issues. One thing that can cause this is if a man has a vasectomy and then has it reversed.
It may also be caused by infection or injury in the epididymis, which is a mass of small ducts that the sperm travels through during maturation before entering the vas deferens and exiting the body. Sometimes, these antibodies may occur in a man without any known cause.
6. Problems with Erection/Ejaculation
Problems relating to sperm may be the most common issue that leads to infertility in men, but it is not the only one. Another problem that men may experience that can cause infertility is an issue related to erection and/or ejaculation.
There are several different problems that some men experience with erection/ejaculation that cause their infertility.
7. Retrograde Ejaculation
One possible issue is retrograde ejaculation. This occurs when the semen goes up into the bladder when ejaculation occurs rather than out of the body through the urethra.
It can be caused by several things such as diabetes, nerve problems, and issues with the sphincter muscles. Fortunately, retrograde ejaculation is rare.
8. Premature Ejaculation
Premature ejaculation is a very common problem among men.
Sometimes a man doesn’t have much, if any, control over the timing of his ejaculation and may ejaculate quickly from minimal sexual stimulation. If he ejaculates before he and his partner are ready for it, it is considered premature ejaculation.
This, in and of itself, does not cause infertility.
However, if a man really struggles with it, he may regularly ejaculate before penetration which would, obviously, reduce the chance of pregnancy.
9. Delayed or No Ejaculation
Sometimes men can have the opposite problem of premature ejaculation.
They aren’t able to control their ejaculation, but instead of it occurring too soon, it can be difficult to achieve ejaculation at all. Some men that struggle with delayed ejaculation may just take abnormally long to reach ejaculation, whereas some men are unable to ejaculate at all.
It isn’t commonly known, but it is possible for some men to orgasm without ejaculation. When it is difficult to ejaculate or if a man is unable to ejaculate at all, this can severely decrease the chance of pregnancy.
10. Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is a problem that occurs when a man is either unable to get an erection or unable to keep an erection in order to have penetrative sex.
Obviously, when a man can’t get or keep an erection, he is unable to complete sexual intercourse and pregnancy can’t be achieved.
11. Other Erection/Ejaculation Problems
Some other causes of problems with ejaculation and/or erection that may lead to infertility are things like spinal cord injury, nerve damage, or prostate surgery.
It is also possible that certain medications can potentially lead to issues with erection and/or ejaculation which can then result in problems with fertility.
12. Problems with Hormones
Hormones control so much of our bodies, including our sexual health and function in addition to our reproductive health and function.
When something is off about our hormones, it can seriously affect all aspects of our health, especially fertility. There are several things that can cause hormone issues in men that can lead to infertility. Pituitary tumours can be one thing that can cause hormone problems in men.
The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain and controls hormone levels and production. Tumours here can cause serious problems with hormone levels and reduce chance of pregnancy. It is also possible for men to have a congenital pituitary defect that causes hormone problems from birth.
The use of certain steroids can also negatively impact hormones and lead to infertility.
Often times when men struggle with something as personal as their sexual and reproductive health, they may feel embarrassed and not want to face the problem.
It is important to understand that you are not alone and infertility is a common problem that both men and women face regularly. The best news is that there is almost always a possible solution and that most causes of infertility can be treated. The only way to get that treatment though, is to seek it.
You can visit a fertility specialist with your partner where you can both receive appropriate evaluation and testing to discover a possible cause and treatment plan for infertility.