What Causes Infertility in Men?

It’s All About Sperm

Did you know male infertility causes almost half of infertility cases? About 90 percent of infertility in men is due to sperm—its quality, quantity, or the ability to deliver it to the woman’s uterus. To get a woman pregnant naturally, a man must produce healthy sperm which move well, in enough volume, and be able to have an erection and to ejaculate. Lifestyle, hormonal issues, physical problems, and psychological conditions can all affect a man’s fertility. Often the condition causing infertility can’t be treated, but assisted reproductive technology (ART) can make it possible for a man with fertility problems to become a father.

Lifestyle Factors

Many fairly common behaviors can reduce the quality and quantity of a man’s sperm. Smoking has been shown to have a significant negative impact on both sperm count and sperm motility (ability to swim). Use of marijuana or other recreational drugs has been found to reduce fertility over time. Chronic alcohol abuse, use of anabolic steroids, overly intense exercise, obesity, and stress can lead to infertility. Even the heat created from a laptop held on the lap can affect sperm motility and cause DNA damage, a recent study discovered. Changing these behaviors can improve fertility if they haven’t been going on for a long time.

Hormonal Issues

Hormone problems are fairly uncommon as a cause of male infertility. Hormone imbalances can result from a problem with the testicles themselves or with other hormone systems such as the pituitary, hypothalamus, thyroid and adrenal glands. Low testosterone can result from a number of different conditions.

Physical Problems

Varicoceles are the most common reversible cause of infertility in men. A varicocele is a swelling of a vein that drains blood from the testicles. It may raise the temperature in the testicles, and it reduces quality and quantity of sperm. Sometimes infections cause scarring that blocks the passage of sperm out of the body, particularly sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea or HIV. There may be defects to the tubules that carry sperm, from injury, trauma, previous surgery like a vasectomy, or abnormal development, such as with cystic fibrosis or other inherited conditions. Klinefelter’s syndrome is a genetic disease in which the person has an extra X chromosome. A man with Klinefelter’s syndrome has one Y and two X chromosomes. Klinefelter’s prevents the testicles from developing normally. There are numerous other physical problems which keep sperm from moving properly, such as retrograde ejaculation, when sperm flows back into the bladder instead of out through the penis.

Psychological/Sexual Conditions

Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is familiar to everyone now from the Viagra and Cialis advertising. ED used to be thought of as a psychological condition, but research has established that 90 percent of cases have a physical cause, although there are often psychological factors as well. It’s very common, especially as men get older. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stress, and the side effects of many medications, as well as other conditions, can cause impotence. Premature ejaculation is another sexual condition, when a man ejaculates before he can place his penis in the woman’s vagina. Behavioral therapy sometimes can help with this condition. Ejaculatory incompetence is a very rare psychological condition, when a man has no trouble masturbating but can’t ejaculate during sexual intercourse with a woman.

How ART Can Help

The good news is, if a man’s testicles are producing sperm, it may be possible to have a biological child using assisted reproductive technology. In many cases, even if there is no sperm in the ejaculated semen, sperm can be aspirated from his testicles and used to fertilize eggs in the laboratory via IVF. If quality or quantity is low, a single sperm can be injected into an egg by a procedure known as ICSI, intracytoplasmic sperm injection. The first step in combating male infertility is a fertility workup to find the causes and develop a treatment plan.

Finding Help with Infertility

If you’re ready to pursue IVF treatment, WIN Fertility can help. WINFertility’s Nurse Care Managers or professionally-trained Patient Specialists can help you find an excellent reproductive endocrinologist in your area and get discounted treatment packages and financing options. WINFertility provides lower than market-rate Treatment and Medication Bundles which combine medical services for a single IVF treatment, genetic testing and medications at a discounted “pay-as-you-go” price saving you up to 40% off the total cost of your treatment cycle.  The bundle is tailored for your specific treatment plan, and you only pay for the treatment you need, unlike traditional multi-cycle discount plans in which you pay for up to 6 attempts that you may never need in order to receive a discount. For those patients who think they may need an additional IVF attempt to become pregnant, the WINFertility 2nd Chance IVF Refund Program helps control costs, maximizes your chance of success and minimizes your risk of overpaying. Are you ready to take the next step? Visit www.WINFertility.com or call 1-855-705-4483 (4IVF.)

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