Common Causes of Male Infertility
Traditionally, infertility has always been assumed as a woman’s problem, even today in some parts of the world. But medically, about one in every three cases of infertility is attributed to the male. It is usually very troubling for the male that has gotten a diagnosis of infertility, and it is usually very challenging for… Read More
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Common Causes of Male Infertility
Traditionally, infertility has always been assumed as a woman’s problem, even today in some parts of the world. But medically, about one in every three cases of infertility is attributed to the male. It is usually very troubling for the male that has gotten a diagnosis of infertility, and it is usually very challenging for the person. The inability to get a woman pregnant can make a man feel like they are failing at one of their most fundamental tasks in the world. In most cases, there is usually a solution for infertility due to the advances in modern medicine while in some other cases, the issue is quite final.
What is Male Infertility?
Infertility is described as an issue with the reproductive organs of an individual that prevent the person from getting a female pregnant. If a male human engages in about a year of repeated sexual intercourse without the female getting pregnant, then it can be said that either the male or female or both of them are infertile. Infertility is quite common and affects one out of every five couples that are trying to conceive.
The process of conception
To better understand the causes of male infertility, it may be necessary to go over the factors that should be in place for the natural process of conception to occur. They include:
- The production of healthy gametes by each party, that is the production of healthy sperm by the male and healthy eggs by the female.
- Unblocked tracts that will allow the passing of both the sperm and the egg
- The healthy sperm’s ability to fertilize the egg
- Fertilized egg’s ability to implant into the uterus
The embryo has to be healthy to continue to develop and last the full term of the pregnancy. This will depend on both the embryo and the hormonal environment of the female that will carry the pregnancy. These factors are all important in fertility, and even one of them being off will lead to the inability to conception happening and infertility.
What are the risk factors of infertility in males?
Certain factors predispose some men to infertility. These factors being present in these individuals mean that they are more likely to be infertile than others. The factors include:
- Chronic alcoholism
- Older age
- Radiation exposure
- Ingestion of medication like cimetidine, spironolactone, etc
- Exposure to heavy chemicals like lead, pesticides, mercury, etc
- Constant exposure of the testicles to heat
- Constant abuse of drugs like tobacco, cigarettes, etc
What are the causes of male infertility?
The causes of male infertility can be because of environmental factors, biological factors, or even both. Some of the common causes of male infertility include:
- Genetic factors – some of them include myotonic dystrophy, microdeletion, etc.
- Medication and supplements – like spironolactone, cimetidine
- Azoospermia – this is described as an inability of the testicles to produce sperm cells.
- Oligospermia – this is the production of low-quality sperm which are unable to fertilize an egg.
- Malformed sperm – this is the production of sperm with deformed qualities which cannot fertilize an egg.
- Cancer therapy – this can happen through radiation, chemotherapy, or the surgical removal of testes affected by cancer.
- Lifestyle habits – This can include harmful habits like smoking, drug use, alcoholism, etc.
- Trauma – This is where an injury occurs to the individual’s testicles which permanently damages it
- Hormonal disorders – These disorders may affect the individual’s pituitary glands or the hypothalamus which may affect fertility.
- Medical conditions – Some medical conditions that may cause infertility include cystic fibrosis, diabetes, infections, etc.
- Varicoceles – This is a condition where the testicular veins grow larger than normal, causing them to overheat which negatively impacts the shape and number of sperm cells.
What are the symptoms of male infertility?
The inability of the male to impregnate the female leads to many other side effects like feelings of depression, anxiety, inadequacy, and failure. This often leads to the couple’s life being centered on the conception of a baby often to the regression of other parts of their relationship. It is advisable for the couple experiencing these symptoms to seek professional help from healthcare providers like therapists or qualified psychiatrists. These professionals will help the couple deal with the situation and provide support to the couple even when they are going through treatment for infertility.
How is male infertility evaluated?
Diagnosis starts with a complete body examination to determine the general state of health of the individual and then locate any physical problems that may hamper fertility. The healthcare provider may also conduct interviews with the couple. When these preliminary tests do not find any problem, then further testing to identify the actual cause of the infertility is conducted. The tests are conducted on the semen sample of the male. The tests that are conducted on the samples include:
- Total sperm count
- Sperm pH measurement
- Sperm volume
- Sperm concentration
- Sperm velocity
- Sperm morphology
- Sperm viscosity and linearity
A more detailed sperm analysis is usually carried out. This set of tests measures the sperm:
Other special tests which may be done and are usually specific for a particular defect include:
- Sperm DNA assessment
- Semen biochemistry fructose test
- Sperm antibody test
- Leukocytospermia quantitation test
- Special staining
- Reactive oxygen species
Infertility in males is not always possible to prevent, but there are ways that they can try to prevent or avoid some of the known causes of male infertility. Some of the ways to prevent it include:
- Avoiding smoking
- Avoiding abuse of illicit drugs
- Abstinence from alcohol
- Avoiding the application of prolonged heat to the testicles
- Maintenance of a healthy weight
- Reduction of stress
- Avoidance of exposure to toxins, heavy metals like mercury, and pesticides
- Avoiding vasectomy