Causes of Male Fertility Problems: A good number of reproductive-age couples have trouble conceiving. About a third of these are due to male fertility issues, another third due to female fertility problems and the other third due to issues pertaining to both partners and, sometimes, causes that remain unknown.
Male infertility may be a little difficult to detect. If you have been having regular unprotected sex for more than a year but still haven’t conceived and are trying to conceive, you might need to see a doctor. This timeline reduces to six months if you are above 35. Fertility problems can be treated and about 65% of couples that do seek fertility treatment end up conceiving.
Looking at fertility issues, it is important to find out what the problem could be so as to facilitate the best treatment plan. The causes vary, with some being genetic while others are as a result of poor lifestyle choices. Let’s take a detailed look at these causes.
Lifestyle factors and medical history
Conceiving may be more difficult if you:
- Take three or more alcoholic beverages a day
- Smoke marijuana or tobacco in whatever form
- Use any illegal drugs
- Have high blood pressure
- Use medication used to treat a digestive disorder, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, depression or thyroid disease
- Practice poor nutrition
- Have been or are regularly exposed to toxins like lead or pesticides
- Are overweight
- Have a hernia
- Had a sexually transmitted infection at some point including gonorrhea and chlamydia
- Had undescended testicles as a child, whether one or two
Any one of these risk factors predisposes you to infertility and it would be best if you got properly checked by a doctor. Explain yourself to your doctor, outlining the factors that best fit your lifestyle. From there, your doctor should be able to advise on the appropriate way forward.
A few men have a blocked ejaculatory duct. This keeps sperm from mixing with ejaculate fluid and leaves you shooting blanks. It could be because the vas deferens (tubes that carry sperm to the ejaculatory duct) or the epididymis (the organ that carries the sperm from the testicles) are either blocked or damaged. It could also be caused by a condition known as retrograde ejaculation, which is when the muscle controlling the bladder is weak and lets in semen.
There are no symptoms except for retrograde ejaculation where urine will be cloudy or there will be minimal ejaculate after orgasm.
These are enlarged veins located in the scrotum. They can be compared to varicose veins. Varicoceles have blood flowing inside them and this raises the temperature in the testicles. This in turn affects sperm quality because high temperatures aren’t ideal for sperm production.
A doctor can diagnose varicoceles using an ultrasound or a physical exam. It can be solved using surgery, IVF with or without intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) or intrauterine insemination (IUI).
At times fertility problems may be caused by your body developing antibodies that may destroy your sperm or reduce its motility. This is more likely to happen after an infection, a vasectomy, trauma or testicular torsion (when a testicle gets twisted while in the scrotum).
There are no symptoms to look out for but you can pursue fertilization by IVF with ICSI. Steroids will also suppress these antibodies but the long term side effects may be a deterrent.
Low sperm motility or count
It may be that your sperm is unable to properly move (low sperm motility), is abnormally shaped, is low in number or you have none at all. All these scenarios make it difficult for fertilization to occur. These problems can be caused by injury to the genitals or urinary tract, hormonal imbalance, genetic disorders, exposure to excessive heat or a fever, and exposure to certain toxins and drugs.
There are no symptoms that present with this condition. You can use fertility drugs, IVF with ICSI or IUI using donor sperm or your own if it fits the bill.
Regardless of the cause of infertility, engage with your doctor at all times. There are several possibilities that could allow you to have a baby in the long run.
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