While infertility can often be considered a woman’s issue, often a couple’s issue with infertility can be due to an issue with the male. In approximately half of all infertility cases, male infertility plays a role.
Male infertility is typically determined by a semen analysis. A specialist will evaluate the number of sperm, how they are shaped and how they move. A semen analysis can be slightly abnormal, and the male still be fertile. However, the analysis helps determine the cause of infertility and what can be done to treat it.
Causes of Male Infertility
Problems with male fertility can be caused by a variety of issues:
- Existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, trauma, infection, testicular failure or treatment with chemotherapy or radiation
- Varicoceles is a condition in which there is swelling of the veins that drain the testicle. It can lead to reduced sperm count and fewer moving sperm.
- Infections (including sexually-transmitting infections) can interfere with sperm count or cause scarring that blocks the sperm.
- Unhealthy habits, such as smoking, heavy alcohol use, testosterone supplementation, steroid use and illicit drug use.
- Environmental toxins including exposure to pesticides and lead.
- Chromosome defects can lead to abnormal development of male reproductive organs.
Male infertility can be treated with medical, surgical or assisted reproductive therapies depending on the exact cause. Even if an exact cause is not clear, your doctor may be able to recommend treatments that help.