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What is Male Infertility & Causes of Male Infertility

| 04 Mar 2022 | 1582 Views |

Getting pregnant may be the plan for most couples out there but it isn’t so straightforward for everyone. In order to boost your chances of conception, it is important that both partners know how to maintain their health in the best way possible. When it comes to male infertility, there are many factors that can negatively affect fertility that might require treatment from the Best IVF Doctor in India.

What is Male Infertility?

Infertility is defined clinically in women and men who cannot achieve pregnancy even after one year of having intercourse without using birth control. Overall, one-third of such infertility cases are caused by male reproductive issues. Most men with infertility do not even notice any particular signs. But there are still a few common symptoms associated with male infertility including:

  • Problems with sexual functions such as erectile dysfunction, difficulty with ejaculation or reduced sexual desire
  • A lower than normal sperm count (normal range is 20 million to 300 million per milliliter whereas below 10 million is considered poor)
  • Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicle area
  • Abnormal breast growth (gynecomastia)
  • Decreased facial or body hair or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality

What causes infertility in men?

Male infertility can occur due to lack of enough sperm, poor-quality or low-mobility sperm or ejaculation problems. Inflammation of testicles or swollen veins in the scrotum can also lead to sperm abnormality. Overall, the primary causes of male infertility can therefore be:

  • Low sperm production
  • Abnormal sperm function, or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm.
  • Hypothalamic, pituitary or gonad disorders

Male infertility can occur due to lack of enough sperm, poor-quality or low-mobility sperm or ejaculation problems. Inflammation of testicles or swollen veins in the scrotum can also lead to sperm abnormality. Overall, the primary causes of male infertility can therefore be:

  • Smoking tobacco: Increased seminal levels of ROS (reactive oxygen species) in smokers expose spermatozoa to oxidative stress, consequently impairing sperm function and ultimately compromising male fertility.
  • Excessive use of alcohol: Spermatogenesis gradually declines with increasing levels of alcohol intake due to partial or complete spermatogenic arrest.
  • Taking certain illicit drugs: Drugs such as marijuana, cocaine or opiates adversely affect testicular architecture and sperm function.
  • Being overweight: The excess of white adipose tissue in obese individuals is known to decrease testosterone production.
  • Suffering from emotional stress: Research has shown that psychological stress adversely affects reproductive hormones and reduces sperm motility as well as its quality.
  • Overheating the testicles: Genital heat stress resulting from scrotal hyperthermia is a substantial risk factor for male infertility. Tight clothing, working on a laptop for extended periods, or prolonged sitting jobs can lower the sperm count.

How is Male Infertility treated?

‘Semen analysis’ is a commonly used as a diagnostic test for male fertility. Under semen analysis, several specific markers are assessed such as volume of semen, sperm count, shape and size of the sperm, and sperm motility.

Although it is not always possible to detect an exact cause of male infertility, there are some standard procedures that are recommended by doctors:

  • Hormone replacement or medications
  • Surgery – For example, a varicocele can often be surgically corrected or an obstructed vas deferens repaired. Prior vasectomies can be reversed.
  • Antibiotic treatment to treat reproductive tract infections
  • Counseling & medication to help improve fertility in conditions such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.

In vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination can be explored as an alternative.

In order to treat male infertility, lifestyle management is also very important. The negative effects of environmental factors can be overcome to a large extent by behavioral changes and better lifestyle choices. Following steps to manage harmful lifestyle habits can often address the issue and improve your chances of conceiving with your partner.

  • Avoid smoking completely.
  • Limit consumption of alcohol or abstain from it.
  • Avoid tasks that lead to prolonged heat for the testicles.
  • Maintain a good work-life balance. If your job is physically demanding, reduce the amount of heavy lifting in the job.
  • Exercise daily and follow a healthy diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Visit a counselor and/or practice stress management techniques.
  • Steer clear of illicit drugs.
  • Avoid exposure to pesticides, heavy metals and other toxins.
  • Avoiding long, hot baths, hot tubs or saunas
  • Wear a loose-fitting underwear

Perhaps this way by the timely diagnosis, routine consultation and maintaining an overall positive lifestyle, the harm due to lifestyle factors influencing sperm quality and male fertility can be minimized. As a couple attempting to increase success rate of conception, you must update yourself on the impact of risk factors present in our daily life. Often the influence of several of these factors on male infertility may be reversible. Regular counselling and clinical intervention can greatly benefit the couple.

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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