It is commonly accepted that more and more couples, in modern societies, have problems getting pregnant. As far as men are concerned, male infertility statistics show that roughly 7% of all men are affected. So, in this article, we are going to take a deeper look at the most common male infertility causes.
What is male infertility?
Nearly 15% of couples have trouble conceiving. When they can’t get pregnant due to the inability of the male partner, this is defined as male infertility. There is a great number of possible reasons for infertility but most of them are connected with abnormal semen analysis.
What are the most common male infertility causes?
Almost all causes fall into one of 4 major categories which are the lifestyle, physical problems, hormonal problems and psychological problems. In any case, sperm transport or sperm production are the mostly affected.
A great portion of the causes of infertility in males consists of our habits and our way of life in general.
- Smoking – Various studies have shown that smoking directly damages the sperm DNA. It can also harm fertility indirectly since it’s associated with cardiovascular disease, decreasing blood circulation which is vital for sperm production and erection.
- Drugs – Marijuana, which contains cannabinoids, reduces testosterone, decreases sperm production and much like heroin and methadone it decreases sperm motility. When it comes to commonly prescribed drugs that affect male fertility, the list is quite long. Antibiotics, antihypertensives, antipsychotics, corticosteroids and H2 blockers are just some of them as shown by a research lead by Yamada and Miyata.
- Nutrition – as commonly said “we are what we eat” meaning that a healthy diet is a prerequisite for a healthy body. Consuming lots of fruit and vegetables improves the fertility factors whereas a diet rich in fat and proteins can harm them. Vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and antioxidants also are of significant importance for semen health.
- Weight – Being obese or underweight both harm semen health and there is a number of reasons for that. Excess fat in the body, reduced blood circulation, and diseases caused by obesity explain why overweight people have a greater chance of facing infertility problems. Being underweight, on the other hand, means that the nutrients the body can provide for semen production are limited.
- Exercise – Exercising can be a double-edged sword. A fair amount of physical activity is beneficial but overdoing so will have the exact opposite results. It is also worth mentioning that exercises such as bicycling that apply great pressure on the scrotum block the blood circulation in the area.
- Alcohol – A glass of wine every now and then supplies the body with much-needed antioxidants. Chronic alcohol abuse, though, can be detrimental in more ways than one.
- Clothing – The scrotum should never be overly constrained by tight underwear or other clothing. Apart from that, the scrotal temperature is critical. As shown by many studies, an increase in scrotal temperature results to lower sperm motility and functionality. These 2 factors are tied together and are often overlooked as male infertility causes.
- Environmental pollution – Air pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, pesticides, heavy metals, toxins and radiation all have a negative effect on sperm health.
2) Physical Problems
This list consists of a number of anatomical problems, genetic conditions, diseases and infections that have an impact on male fertility.
- Varicocele – enlarged veins inside the scrotum
- Klinefelter syndrome – genetic condition that results in reduced testosterone production and smaller testicles
- Trauma – injury
- Hydrocele testis– a condition in which a sac of the scrotum is filled with fluid
- Testicular cancer
- Neoplasm – usually referred to as tumor
- Malaria – an infectious disease that is transmitted by mosquito
- Mumps – a highly contagious viral disease
- Testicular torsion – torsion of a testicle is an emergency and requires immediate treatment, even surgery
- Smallpox – a highly contagious viral disease
- Syphilis – a sexually transmitted infection
- Gonorrhea – a sexually transmitted infection
- Cryptorchidism – also known as undescended testis
- Urinary tract infection
- Retrograde ejaculation – dysfunctional muscles of the bladder wall
- Cystic fibrosis – a severe genetic disorder
- Vasectomy and vasectomy reversal
- Prostate problems
3) Hormonal Problems
Endocrinopathies, another name for hormonal problems, are a small percentage of male infertility causes but one that should not be ignored. Testosterone, prolactin, estrogen and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) are hormones of great significance in the male body. Some of the most notable hormone problems that disturb male fertility are :
- Hypothyroidism & Hyperthyroidism – both of them produce variable degrees of gonadal dysfunction, reduce semen health, and lower sex drive.
- Hypogonadism – a condition in which the body produces low levels of testosterone, a male hormone that is indispensable for semen production and sexual activity
- Hyperprolactinemia – an endocrinological disorder in which a person has high prolactin levels in the blood. Prolactin is important for spermatogenesis and overall testicular functionality.
- Hypopituitarism – deficiency of pituitary hormone production which means it affects the levels of FSH, LH, and prolactin
- Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia – a genetic dysfunctionality of the adrenal glands that produce sex hormones among other
- Anabolic steroid abuse
4) Psychological problems
There is also a number of psychological factors to watch out for when trying to get pregnant.
- Premature Ejaculation (PE) – there is no clear evidence as to what exactly causes it but it definitely hinders the ability of a man to reproduce
- Erectile Disfunction (ED) – it is caused by several factors that can be of organic or psychological nature
- Ejaculatory Incompetence – it is a condition in which a man is incapable of ejaculating inside the vagina and by definition it causes infertility in men
- Stress – no matter what the cause for it is (problems at work, financial difficulties, aging, relationship problems, major life changes etc), it is universally accepted that stress leads to numerous health problems and infertility is one of them
When a couple is planning to get pregnant a number of tests for fertility problems should be a priority. In case you are diagnosed with such a problem, do not despair. You are definitely not the only ones out there having trouble getting pregnant and there might be a solution for you. Nowadays, overcoming infertility is a reality considering the fact that many of the factors mentioned above are reversible and well examined. Seek for some infertility counseling and if the problem remains, consider any alternatives. The chance of success of in vitro fertilization (IVF) is getting higher and higher by the year, as technology advances, so don’t rule it out. No matter what, stay positive and never give up.