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10 causes of male infertility

The top 10 causes of male infertility every men must know

| 02 Nov 2023 | 235305 Views |

The top 10 causes of male infertility every men must know

  1. Tubal factor infertility (30-40%)
  2. Varicocele (15-20%)
  3. Hormonal imbalances (10-15%)
  4. Medications (5-10%)
  5. Environmental toxins (5-10%)
  6. Genetic disorders (2-3%)
  7. Lifestyle factors (10-15%)
  8. Unexplained infertility (10-15%)
  9. Premature ejaculation (1-2%)
  10. Ejaculatory dysfunction (1-2%)

Here is a detailed and deep overview of the top 10 causes of male infertility in simple and easy-to-understand English:

1. Tubal factor infertility

Tubal factor infertility is the most common cause of male infertility, accounting for 30-40% of cases. It is caused by blockages in the vas deferens or epididymis. The vas deferens are the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the urethra, and the epididymis are the tubes where sperm mature and develop. Blockages in these tubes can prevent sperm from being ejaculated, or they can cause sperm to be damaged.

There are a number of different things that can cause blockages in the vas deferens or epididymis, including:

  • Infections: Infections of the reproductive tract, such as epididymitis and orchitis, can cause inflammation and scarring, which can lead to blockages.
  • Surgery: Surgery in the pelvic area, such as vasectomy or hernia repair, can also damage the vas deferens or epididymis.
  • Injuries: Trauma to the testicles or groin area can also damage the vas deferens or epididymis.
    Congenital defects: Some men are born with defects in the vas deferens or epididymis.

2. Varicocele

A varicocele is a condition in which the veins around the testicles are enlarged. This can cause the testicles to overheat, which can damage sperm production. Varicoceles are the most common cause of male infertility in India, accounting for 15-20% of cases.

The exact cause of varicoceles is unknown, but they may be caused by a combination of factors, such as genetics, hormonal imbalances, and pressure from the testicles on the veins.

3. Hormonal imbalances

Certain hormones, such as testosterone and FSH, are essential for sperm production. Imbalances in these hormones can lead to infertility.

Testosterone is the main male sex hormone. It is responsible for the development and function of the male reproductive organs. Low testosterone levels can lead to decreased sperm production and quality.

FSH is a hormone that stimulates the testicles to produce sperm. High levels of FSH can indicate that the testicles are not functioning properly and that sperm production is impaired.

Hormonal imbalances can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as pituitary tumors and Klinefelter syndrome, can cause hormonal imbalances.
  • Medications: Some medications, such as chemotherapy drugs and steroids, can also affect hormone levels.
  • Lifestyle choices: Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and obesity can all contribute to hormonal imbalances.

4. Medications

Certain medications can damage sperm production or quality. These medications include:

  • Chemotherapy drugs: Chemotherapy drugs are used to treat cancer, but they can also damage sperm cells.
  • Anabolic steroids: Anabolic steroids are used to build muscle mass, but they can also suppress testosterone production and damage sperm cells.
  • Antidepressants: Some antidepressants can reduce sex drive and ejaculation, which can make it difficult to conceive.
  • Other medications: Other medications that can affect sperm production or quality include pain relievers, antibiotics, and antihistamines.

5. Environmental toxins

Exposure to certain environmental toxins can damage sperm production or quality. These toxins include:

  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • Heavy metals
  • Industrial chemicals

6. Genetic disorders

Certain genetic disorders can cause male infertility. These disorders include:

  • Klinefelter syndrome: Klinefelter syndrome is a genetic disorder in which males have an extra X chromosome. This can cause infertility and other health problems.
  • Cystic fibrosis: Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects the lungs and digestive system. It can also cause infertility in men.
  • Y chromosome deletions: Microdeletions in the Y chromosome can also cause male infertility.

7. Lifestyle factors

Sedentary lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle is one that involves little or no physical activity. Sitting for long periods of time can lead to a number of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It can also affect male fertility.

Studies have shown that men who are more active tend to have higher sperm counts and better sperm quality than men who are more sedentary. Regular exercise can also help to improve testosterone levels and reduce stress levels, which can also boost fertility.

Cosmetics

Some cosmetics may contain chemicals that can disrupt hormone levels and affect male fertility. For example, some phthalates, which are used in plastics and fragrances, have been linked to decreased sperm counts and quality.

If you are concerned about the effect of cosmetics on your fertility, it is important to choose products that are free of phthalates and other harmful chemicals.

Alcohol

Excessive alcohol consumption can damage sperm production and quality. Alcohol can also reduce testosterone levels and interfere with sexual function.
Studies have shown that men who drink more than two alcoholic drinks per day have lower sperm counts and quality than men who drink less or not at all.

Smoking

Smoking is another lifestyle factor that can damage male fertility. Smoking can reduce sperm count and quality, and it can also damage DNA.
Studies have shown that men who smoke have lower sperm counts and quality than men who do not smoke. Smoking can also increase the risk of miscarriage and premature birth.

Pollution

Exposure to air pollution has been linked to decreased sperm counts and quality. Air pollution contains a number of harmful chemicals that can damage sperm cells.

If you live in an area with high levels of air pollution, it is important to take steps to reduce your exposure, such as wearing a mask when you go outside and avoiding strenuous activity during times when pollution levels are high.

Stress

Chronic stress can also affect male fertility. Stress can interfere with hormone production and reduce sperm production and quality.

There are a number of different ways to manage stress, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and spending time with loved ones.

8. Unexplained infertility

In 10-15% of cases of male infertility, no identifiable cause can be found. This is known as unexplained infertility.

9. Premature ejaculation

Premature ejaculation is a condition in which a man ejaculates too soon during sexual intercourse. This can make it difficult for sperm to reach the egg and conceive a child.

10. Ejaculatory dysfunction

Ejaculatory dysfunction is a condition in which a man is unable to ejaculate. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including medical conditions, medications, and nerve damage.

Conclusion

Male infertility is a complex problem that can be caused by a variety of factors. If you are concerned about your fertility, it is important to talk to your doctor. They can help you to identify any underlying causes of infertility and recommend appropriate treatment options.

There are a number of things that men can do to improve their fertility, including:

  • Quit smoking.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid exposure to environmental toxins.
  • Take certain supplements, such as zinc and vitamin C.

If you are struggling to conceive, there are a number of treatment options available, including medication, surgery, and assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

With early diagnosis and treatment, many men with infertility can go on to conceive and have children.

About The Author
Dr. Richika Sahay

MBBS (Gold Medalist), DNB (Obst & Gyne), MNAMS, MRCOG (London-UK), Fellow IVF, Fellow MAS, Infertility (IVF) Specialist & Gynae Laparoscopic surgeon,[Ex AIIMS & Sir Gangaram Hospital, New Delhi]. Read more

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