Infertility in Men- Causes and Prevention

Jun 04, 2019

Most of the people in India think that fertility is only a woman's problem, the reality is far different from this. In many couples, the problem lies in the male partner solely resulting in the lady's inability to conceive. Infertility is not only a lady's problem but there are causes of infertility in men as well. This is the reason that men must get tested for fertility along with women and the earlier it is done, the better it is. This helps the partners in avoiding unnecessary discomfort and expenses which narrows down potential problems.

How to Know?

Male Infertility is caused by problems affecting the sperm transport or sperm production. The exact cause of the problem can be identified through medical testing. Male fertility is as important as female fertility is. Some of the requirements for getting your partner pregnant are-
  1. Production of healthy sperm
  2. Good Sperm Count
  3. Ability to carry sperm to semen
  4. Functionality/ ability of sperm to move
When these parameters and others are not fulfilled, there is a risk of infertility which may lead to difficulty in conception for the partner.

Causes of Infertility in Men

Some of the causes of infertility in men include-
  1. Varicocele- Varicocele is one of the most common yet reversible causes of male infertility. Basically, the veins that drain the testicles have swollen which reduces the quality of sperm.
  2. Infection- There can be any type of infection (including STDs), out of which, some may interfere with sperm production/ sperm health or blockage of the passage of sperm. Some infections may also lead to permanent testicular damage.
  3. Ejaculation Difficulty- Retrograde ejaculation is a condition where the semen enters the bladder during orgasm instead of the tip of the penis. This may be caused by health conditions like diabetes, surgery, spinal injury, medications, etc.
  4. Antibodies attack sperm- Anti-sperm antibodies are cells of the immune system that identify sperm as harmful invaders and try to eliminate them consequently leading to male infertility.
  5. Undescended Testicles- During fetal development, some males do not have proper testicle development. One or both testicles fail to descend from the abdomen to the sac usually containing the testicles consequently leading to infertility.
  6. Hormonal Imbalance- Infertility can be a result of hormonal systems including thyroid glands, adrenal glands, pituitary gland and the hypothalamus.
  7. Defected Tubules- Tubules transport the sperm to the vagina. Blockage due to various causes like surgery, infections, trauma or abnormal development, leads to infertility in men.
  8. Tumors- Cancers and nonmalignant tumors affect the male reproductive system directly. In some cases, radiation and chemotherapy may also have a big role to play.
  9. Chromosome defects- Disorders that are inherited from birth can cause abnormal development of the male organs. Example- Klinefelter's syndrome, Kallmann's Syndrome, etc.
  10. Sexual Intercourse Problems- There can be a number of problems with sexual intercourse like erectile dysfunction, painful intercourse, premature ejaculation and other anatomical abnormalities.
  11. Medications- Certain medication can impair the sperm production decreasing male infertility.
  12. Surgeries- Surgeries like vasectomy, inguinal hernia repairs, prostate surgeries, large abdominal surgeries, testicular surgeries, etc. prevent having sperm in the body. However, in most cases, the doctors can perform a recovery surgery.
  13. Celiac Disease- It is a digestive disorder resulting due to gluten intolerance. Hence, giving up gluten products can improve the male fertility.
  14. Environmental Causes- Environmental elements like heat, toxins, and chemicals reduce the sperm production or sperm function. In fact, some of the causes are heavy metal exposure, industrial chemicals, radiation/ X-rays and overheating of testicles.
  15. Lifestyle Changes- Lifestyle changes like tobacco smoking, drug use, alcohol consumption, etc. play a big role in male fertility.

Prevention of Infertility

Male infertility is of two types and most of them aren't preventable. However, it is still possible to avoid being infertile with some of these prevention tips-
  1. Quit Smoking
  2. Avoid Illicit Drugs
  3. Abstain from alcohol
  4. Maintain a healthy weight
  5. Reduce stress
  6. Avoid exposure to pesticides and other toxins
  7. Avoid Vasectomy
  8. Ensure testicles are not under prolonged heat
  9. Maintain a healthy diet
  10. Wear a protective cup/ jockstrap to protect the testes

When to see the Doctor

A person must see the doctor when they have been unable to conceive for extended periods of time, usually a year or longer after having unprotected intercourse. However, you may plan a visit sooner if you notice any of the following-
  1. Ejaculation Problems/ Low Sex Drive
  2. Pain/ Discomfort/ Swelling in the testicle area
  3. History of testicle/ prostrate/ sexual problems
  4. Groin/ Testicle/ Scrotum surgery

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