Causes of Male Infertility:
Many different causes can contribute to male infertility. Cancer treatment and surgery may impact fertility, as can genetic abnormalities or trauma to the male reproductive organs. Certain medications such as anabolic steroids, testosterone, anti-seizure medication and chemotherapy can greatly reduce sperm production.
Ejaculation issues such as erectile dysfunction or retrograde ejaculation, as well as obstructions present in the vas deferens (sperm pipeline from the testes) or the ejaculatory ducts, prevent sperm from reaching the egg.
In about 40% of men, varicocele is the cause of male infertility issues. When bulging veins collect in the scrotum, known as a varicocele, the pooling blood causes a rise in testicular temperature and affects sperm production.
Hormone imbalances can arise in patients carrying excess weight. When body weight goes above of a healthy BMI, the body may produce additional hormones, lowering sperm production and decreasing sperm concentration.
Studies have consistently and repeatedly shown that male fertility is negatively impacted when tobacco and marijuana are used, and when alcohol is consumed excessively (more than two drinks per day).
Evaluating Male Fertility:
- Semen analysis – A semen sample is carefully evaluated by laboratory professionals for a variety of factors.
- Physical evaluation – Causes of male infertility such as varicocele can usually be diagnosed through a physical exam.
- Hormone testing – Hormonal imbalances can lower sperm production and this can be diagnosed through a blood test.
- Genetic testing – Through genetic testing any genetic obstacles to fertility that can affect sperm production can be examined.
- Testicular Biopsy – Should the biopsy reveal healthy living sperm in the testes, a blockage is likely present.
Semen Analysis Factors:
- Volume – the amount of semen present in ejaculate
- Concentration – the number of sperm present per milliliter of semen
- Morphology (shape) – the amount of sperm in one ejaculation that have a normal shape
- Motility (movement) – the amount of sperm that can move forward normally
- Fructose level – Fructose is a sugar present in semen that provides energy for sperm
- pH – takes a measurement to determine the alkalinity (high pH) or acidity (low pH) in a semen sample
Adopting a healthy lifestyle by exercising, eating a well balanced diet, and abstaining from cigarettes, drugs and limiting alcohol use can greatly boost male fertility. Refrain from causing excessive heat in the testicular area for an extended amount of time. This includes limiting time in a hot tub, placing electronics or computers on the lap, or riding a bicycle for prolonged periods of time.
Should making lifestyle adjustments prove unsuccessful, there are various treatment options dependent upon the diagnosis.