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5 Reasons Men Can Experience Infertility

2021-10-25T14:17:44-06:00November 3rd, 2021|

It still comes as a surprise to many that about half of cases of infertility are to due male fertility problems. The good news that male fertility is often treatable. If you and your partner are struggling to get pregnant, it’s important that both partners undergo fertility testing, so that concerns can be addressed right away. 

Let’s explore five common reasons why male infertility occurs and potential treatments.

1. Concerns with sperm production or blockages

One of the most common causes of male infertility are related to sperm production. This can be caused by a number of factors including:

  • Varicoceles: when the veins in the scrotum enlarge
  • Undescended testicle(s)
  • Diabetes
  • Trauma to the testicles
  • Chromosomal abnormalities

The treatment for sperm production issues varies depending on the underlying cause. Treatment options can include a combination of the following: medications, surgery, lifestyle changes, and assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), such in vitro fertilization (IVF). 

Blockages are also a cause of male infertility. In order for pregnancy to occur, sperm need to travel from the testes out through the urethra in the penis. When there’s an obstruction anywhere along that pathway, there could be difficultly for conception to take place.

Obstructive azoospermia is when there’s no sperm in the semen. This usually happens after a vasectomy, but other reasons can include:

  • Genetic mutations caused by cystic fibrosis
  • Infections within the genital tract
  • Previous surgeries, such as vasectomies
  • Injury to the testicles or scrotum

Treatment for obstructive azoospermia includes surgery, such as a vasectomy reversal or sperm retrieval techniques such as: 

  • Testicular sperm extraction (TESE)
  • Microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA)
  • Percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA)
  • Percutaneous testicular sperm extraction (TESA)

These techniques involve retrieving the sperm directly through the testis or epididymis and then are followed by IVF with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), which is a procedure done in the laboratory in which a single sperm injected into an egg

2. Testosterone use

There’s been a recent increase in the use of prescribed testosterone or anabolic steroids that contain testosterone in males. Testosterone can lower the levels that naturally occur in the body, leading to a drop in sperm counts and difficulty achieving pregnancy. 

In some cases when testosterone is too low in the body, you might be prescribed medication to increase levels where sperm production isn’t affected. If you need to take testosterone, talk with your doctor if you’re planning a pregnancy.

3. Genetic conditions

Some problems with male fertility are due to genetic factors. Examples of genetic conditions that can impact male fertility include:

  • Klinefelter syndrome
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Y chromosome microdeletions
  • Chromosomal translocations

Oftentimes, these conditions don’t have any symptoms and you may not even be aware there’s a concern. Treatment options for genetic condition that affect your fertility include:

  • Remove sperm directly from the testicle (TESE)
  • ICSI 
  • Use donor sperm 

Your fertility specialist may recommend genetic testing after an abnormal semen analysis to help pinpoint genetic abnormalities.

4. Unexplained infertility

Sometimes sperm count, morphology, motility, or concentration may be slightly out of range on a