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Common causes of male infertility

There are many causes of male infertility. These can be divided into three types: those a man is born with (congenital), those he develops throughout his life (acquired), or unknown causes. Usually, male fertility issues are a result of producing lower than normal levels of sperm (a condition called oligozoospermia) or producing no sperm (azoospermia). Other causes can be having a blockage in the reproductive tract that stops sperm from getting into the semen (obstructive azoospermia) abnormalities in the structure of the sperm (morphology) or in the motility of the sperm.

Below are some of the most common causes of male fertility:

GENETIC

A low sperm count, or absence of sperm in semen, may indicate a problem with the Y chromosome; in particular Y chromosome micro deletion. Other genetic conditions include Klinefelter syndrome and Kallmann syndrome.

CRYPTORCHIDISM

Cryptorchidism is a condition where one or both of the testicles are not found in the scrotum, but instead lie in the abdomen. It is also known as an ‘undescended testicle’. Some men may also be born without testicles, a condition called ‘anorchia’.

CONGENITAL ABSENCE OF VAS DEFERENS

This is a condition where the sperm ducts of a male do not develop properly. Sperm is not carried from the testicles to become part of semen, resulting in azoospermia. It is linked with cystic fibrosis.

LIFESTYLE

Use of illegal drugs, alcohol and smoking are all risk factors for reduced fertility.

SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION

Many men experience erectile dysfunction. This means they are unable to attain an erection and cannot have penetrative sex needed to conceive. Other men experience problems with ejaculation.

VASECTOMY

Men who previously had a vasectomy (an operation to make him sterile and prevent pregnancy) can experience what is called obstructive azoospermia.

VARICOCELE

A varicocele is a swollen vein on a man’s scrotum.

INFECTIONS

History of a sexually transmitted infection, mumps or inflammation of the testicles may impair fertility.

OTHER CAUSES

Chronic disease such as diabetes and high blood pressure, exposure to radiation, high temperatures, and treatment with chemotherapy are all linked with infertility.

For more information on any of these issues, or to talk through investigation and treatment options, contact us today.

WHEN SHOULD YOU SEE A FERTILITY SPECIALIST

If you haven’t conceived after 12 months of trying for a baby, it is recommended that you seek help for investigation of fertility difficulties, or after 6 months if your partner is over 35 years. However, please seek advice earlier if any of the following subfertility risk factors apply:

You should see a fertility specialist if you have

  • a history of mumps
  • undescended testes
  • had a vasectomy

Or if either you or partner has

  • has a history of fertility problems
  • prior treatment for cancer

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