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Male Infertility: A Guide to Its Causes

Male infertility refers to a man’s impotence to create sperm or to produce sperm in good enough condition to fertilize an egg from a female partner. When a couple has tried to conceive for a year without using contraception but has been unsuccessful, they are considered infertile.

How frequent is infertility in men?

More than five million American couples struggle with infertility every year. One in six couples who try to conceive experience infertility. Male factors are a primary or contributing cause of infertility in at least half of all cases. Around 10% of all men in the US who are trying to conceive are affected by infertility.

According to doctors, male infertility can be distressing and upsetting, but there are treatments available that may help.

Male infertility: the causes

Some of the most common reasons for male infertility are:

1. Infertility caused by obstructions in males

To reach the ureters, sperm travel from the testicles through a series of smaller tubes known as the epididymis, where they mature and spend 2–10 days before emerging. Seminal fluid from the seminal vesicles and the prostate gland is combined with the sperm in the ejaculatory duct after they have been released from the vas deferens.

As a man ejaculates, his penis contracts to propel the sperm into the urethra and away from his body. One-third of all cases of male infertility can be attributed to problems with the fallopian tubes or vas deferens. Injury or a vasectomy are two potential causes of blocked tubes.

2. Semen and sperm

Low sperm count or low-quality semen (the fluid ejaculated during sex that contains the sperm) are both prevalent causes of male infertility.

Some of the potential causes of defective sperm include:

  • insufficient sperm — either because your sperm count is extremely low or because your sperm isn’t swimming as efficiently as they should, which makes it more difficult for them to reach the egg
  • Having an aberrant sperm makes it more difficult for it to successfully fertilize an egg.
  • There are many cases of anomalous semen that have no clear cause.

It is possible that wearing looser pants enhances fertility because of the correlation between a warm scrotum and poorer-quality sperm.

3. Azoospermia

The absence of detectable sperm in a man’s ejaculate is medically referred to as azoospermia (semen). According to the best doctors,male infertility is the result of azoospermia. Reproductive tract obstruction, hormonal imbalance, abnormalities with ejaculatory function, and testicular anatomy or function are all potential causes. In many cases, the underlying issue can be remedied, and fertility can be re-established. Assisted reproduction methods may be able to employ live sperm that has been recovered for other reasons.

4. Varicocele

Scrotal varicoceles (VAIR-ick-oh-seals) are a frequent venous condition that affects the sac that houses and protects your testicles (balls). Veins inside the scrotum become swollen in a condition known as a varicocele.

Like the more frequent varicose veins, varicoceles cause the veins in your legs to enlarge and become disfigured.

In most cases, varicoceles don’t cause any discomfort, but they have been linked to testicular aches and intermittent pain. Sometimes, a varicocele can cause infertility. You may not require treatment for a varicocele if it is causing you no discomfort.

5. Hormonal disorder

A network of glands and their hormones controls the concentrations of male sex hormones. The hypothalamus directs the pituitary gland in the brain to regulate hormone synthesis in the testicles. Inadequate production of the gonadotrophin hormone is an unusual cause of male infertility.

6. Environmental factors

Pesticides, other chemicals, and radiation are just a few examples of environmental elements that can lead to overexposure. Medications for bacterial infections, high blood pressure, and depression, as well as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, marijuana use, and anabolic steroids, can all have negative effects on fertility. Regular use of hot tubs or saunas can increase core body temperature, which may have an adverse effect on sperm quality.

7. Medication

The development, function, and distribution of sperm can all be affected by the use of certain medicines. Common conditions treated with these drugs include:

  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Inflammation
  • Issues with digestion
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Infections
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer

Men’s infertility testing and diagnosis

If a couple is having fertility issues, both the man and his spouse should be tested. 

  • Physical examination: It may be required to diagnose male infertility.
  • Semen analysis: It involves examining a sample of a man’s semen in a lab to look for anomalies and the presence of antibodies.
  • Blood tests: These are used to determine hormone levels.
  • A testicular biopsy: Involves using a tiny needle and a microscope to examine the testicles and their network of tubes under the skin to determine whether or not they contain sperm.
  • Ultrasonic imaging: It is done in order to capture clear visuals of the reproductive organs like the prostate gland.

Methods for treating male infertility

Men’s infertility treatments vary according to the underlying issue.

  • If your doctor determines that your infertility is the result of your way of life, they will help you make the necessary adjustments. Other therapies can be found if it is suspected that a medical condition’s medicine is the cause of infertility.
  • In order to treat infertility, your doctor may recommend hormone therapy or other drugs.
  • If infertility is caused by a condition like varicocele or a blockage in the urogenital system, surgical techniques can correct the problem.
  • If you and your partner are having trouble getting pregnant despite trying conventional methods, assisted reproductive technologies (ART) may be able to help.


Although the causes of male infertility are not always obvious, there are ten major causes. After many unsuccessful attempts at conceiving, male infertility is often finally diagnosed. Potential therapies exist. Your chances of getting pregnant will improve if you and your partner work together with your best sexologist.


1. What is the most common reason for male infertility?

Issues with sperm production account for the vast majority of male infertility cases. An immature sperm sample may have an irregular shape or be unable to swim. Not everyone is blessed with an abundance of sperm. Or else you risk never having children.

2. What are the options for a male who has never been fertile to conceive?

Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) present robust new possibilities. These sophisticated and costly methods of male infertility treatment work by giving sperm a chemical boost.

3. Is there a hereditary component to infertility?

Genetic abnormalities are thought to account for close to half of all cases of infertility. Hundreds of research using knockout models in animals demonstrated beyond a doubt that infertility is caused by abnormalities in one or more genes.

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