Male Infertility Causes
What causes male infertility?
Problems with male fertility can be due to health issues, medical treatments and lifestyle issues. However, most causes of male factor infertility relate to anatomical variations such as abnormal or missing reproductive tubing, varicose veins that create a poor environment for sperm growth, or inherently abnormal sperm production.
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1. Anatomic Causes
- Obstruction – A blockage in the male reproductive system that prevents the delivery of sperm, like a vasectomy or hernia repair with mesh.
- Missing male reproductive tubing – Congenital Absence of the Vas Deferens.
- Undescended Testis – when the testicle fails to descend down into the scrotum during development. Having one undescended testis does not usually put you at risk of infertility. But, having both testes fail to descend places you at significant risk. There is also an increased risk of testicular cancer with the undescended testis.
- Blockage of ejaculation – either urethral blockage, an enlarged prostate or a blockage of the ejaculatory duct itself.
- Varicocele – distended, varicose veins within the scrotum that cause infertility, as well as pain in some individuals.
2. Behavioral and Environmental causes
- Substance abuse: Tobacco, Alcohol, Marijuana, Cocaine, Anabolic steroids
- Environment – Exposure to pesticides, radiation, heavy metals and suspected, but not yet confirmed, cellular phone radiation
- Vitamin Deficiencies
- Heat – Sauna and hot tub use can lower sperm count temporarily
3. Side effect of healthcare (Iatrogenic)
- Medications – Commonly used medications like Testosterone, antibiotics, anti-psychotics, and anti-depressants (SSRIs) can lead to problems with sperm function and production.
- Cancer Treatment – chemotherapy or radiation to the pelvic/groin area
- Surgery of the pelvis, bladder, prostate, urethra, hernia repair or vasectomy can block the reproductive tubing
4. Reproductive tract infection/inflammation
- Infection – STDs and urologic infections like epididymitis, orchitis or prostatitis
5. Sexual dysfunction – Erectile dysfunction “can’t get it up” or “it won’t stay up”, or ejaculatory issues “nothing comes out”
6. Hormonal Imbalance – hypogonadism or “low T”, changes in prolactin or the pituitary hormones FSH and LH
7. Congenital – Undescended testicles or hypospadias
8. Genetic – Chromosomal, genetic abnormalities
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Kallman’s Syndrome
- Primary Ciliary Dyskenisia
- Klinefelter’s Syndrome
The psychological impact of infertility in men is significant, even if men don’t like to talk about it. This occurs because becoming a parent is though of as a natural process. The inability to procreate can be devastating particularly because having children is also expected by our family, friends, and community. The ability to have offspring directly impacts a man’s masculinity and sense of self, which can have detrimental effects on the couple.
The process of identifying the cause of difficulty conceiving can be a stressful, time consuming and costly process as well. We aim to assist with your fertility needs in a timely, cost-effective fashion. Our Men’s Health Clinic offers full Andrology Services geared to the complete male factor evaluation at one setting. The consultation, hormonal analysis via blood work and semen analysis can be performed on the same day maximizing your time and energy. Our team also works closely with regional experts in female reproduction to complete the couple-based approach to isolate a potential cause of the inability to conceive. We find that this approach results in a pleasant, empowering and cost-effective experience to help you and your loved one conceive.