26 Mar The Causes of Male Infertility
In order to understand male infertility and how to manage the problem effectively, one has to be aware of and understand the possible causes of the condition. Male infertility can be very distressing for the affected man as well as his partner as this affects the ability for them to have any children.
The following are causes that can possibly lead to problems with fertility in men and can be divided into medical, environmental, and health and lifestyle choices.
- Infections – some infections can affect sperm production as well as the health of sperm or may lead to inflammatory changes that cause scarring and obstruction to the spermatic cord or urethra where sperm has to pass through.
- Varicocele – this refers to a swelling of the veins that drain blood from the testicles and causes infertility by resulting in a decreased quality of sperm. This condition is the most reversible cause of infertility in men.
- Issues with ejaculation – when semen enters the bladder on climax this is referred to as retrograde ejaculation and this means that sperm doesn’t come out of the penis. Conditions that can cause this include diabetes or spinal injuries.
- Undescended testes – when the testes fail to descend into the scrotum during fetal development or during childhood, then this increases the chances of ending up with poor quality sperm.
- Anti-sperm antibodies – the body can sometimes produce antibodies that attack normal sperm leading to infertility.
- Hormonal imbalances – abnormally functional endocrine glands such as the pituitary, adrenals, and thyroid or conditions affecting the testicles can lead to low testosterone levels which affect the production of sperm.
- Genetic disorders – conditions such as Klinefelter’s syndrome where a male is born with two X chromosomes results in the abnormal development of sperm cells.
- Cancers – indirectly, cancers of the mentioned endocrine glands can affect sperm production as well as cancer medications and treatments to treat tumors, especially radiation therapy performed close to the reproductive system.
- Defective reproductive anatomy – there are numerous tubules that carry sperm and if any of them are blocked due to various reasons then this affects the passage of the cells out of the testicles.
- Increased temperature exposure – when the testicles are exposed to high temperatures, this impairs sperm production and function. Wearing tight clothing and working with a laptop computer on the lap for prolonged periods of time can expose the testicles to increased temperatures.
- Exposure to heavy metals – being exposed to heavy metals such as lead can lead to infertility in men.
- Exposure to industrial chemicals – being exposed for extended periods of time to products such as pesticides, benzenes, herbicides, painting materials, and organic solvents can result in a reduced sperm count.
Health and Lifestyle Choices
- Using alcohol – alcohol can lower testosterone levels thereby reducing sperm production.
- Smoking tobacco products – the preservatives inhaled with tobacco smoke negatively affect sperm production.
- Using street drugs – using marijuana or cocaine can temporarily decrease sperm production as well as the quality of the cells.
- Obesity – excessive weight can directly impact sperm as well as lead to hormonal changes which reduce the production of sperm by the testicles.
Male infertility is a very important problem that needs to be excluded and managed appropriately since one-third of cases of infertility are due to male-related factors.