Male infertility is more common than you think. A diagnosis of infertility is typically made if a couple has been trying to conceive for one year (12 months or more) by having frequent and unprotected sex. If a couple is over the age of 30, a diagnosis of infertility may be made sooner, after six months of trying.
For couples that have trouble conceiving, many times it’s assumed that the woman is the cause of infertility. The truth is that for couples diagnosed with infertility, in about one-third of cases it’s the male alone who is the source of the problem.
What can cause infertility in men?
There are many causes of infertility in men, but usually the problem is with the production of sperm, or the inability to deliver sperm into a woman’s reproductive system.
Some medicines can reduce sperm production and sperm counts: These can range from chemotherapy drugs used for cancer treatments, seizure medications, antifungals, and testosterone treatments.
Sperm is made in the testicles, then needs to travel so it can mix with semen and become part of a male’s ejaculation fluid. But blockages within the testicles can prevent sperm from moving within the testicles to and through tubes that transportit and allow it to leave the body.
Sometimes an infection can cause a decrease in sperm counts, or cause inflammation within a man’s reproductive system. Inflammation may lead to blockages that prevent sperm from transporting properly.
Some of the other causes of infertility in men include:
- Varicocele – a cluster of swollen veins in the testicle that can impede fertility
- Hormonal imbalances – a man has to have the right balance of testosterone and other hormones to make healthy sperm
- Tumors – can cause blockages as well as alter hormone levels
- Previous surgeries to the male reproductive system
- Undescended testicles – if one or both testicles are undescended, it can lower a man’s fertility
- Erectile dysfunction – can prevent the delivery of sperm into your partner’s vagina
- Low sperm counts
Lifestyle choices can also contribute to male infertility
Obesity can alter sperm quality and hormone levels in males, which can make a man less fertile. There are a number of habits that can lower sperm counts, including:
- Illicit drug use (for example, marijuana, cocaine, anabolic steroids)
- Alcohol use
- Tobacco use
- Long-term emotional stress and anxiety
Environmental toxins can cause harm, too. Exposure to pesticides, industrial chemicals, heavy metals (lead for example) and radiation and X-rays, can all contribute to the development of male infertility.
What we can do for you
When you see Dr. Sepilian, he’ll ask about your medical history and conduct a physical exam. Then he’ll recommend diagnostic tests, such as:
- Sperm and semen analysis
- Hormone tests
- Testicular biopsy
If you’re concerned about male infertility, you’re not alone, because it’s a common problem. Call one of our offices in Santa Monica or Glendale, California, or book a consultation using the online scheduler. Dr. Sepilian can help you discover the cause of your infertility and provide treatments toto fit your needs.