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What are the Most Common Causes of Male Infertility?

Mar 14, 2023
What are the Most Common Causes of Male Infertility?
Male infertility affects 9% of men and about one-third of all infertile couples. Understanding the causes of male infertility is the first step in formulating a treatment plan. Read on to uncover the most common causes.

Infertility is often diagnosed after a couple engages in unprotected sex for 12 months without conceiving. Infertility can affect both men and women, and for couples struggling with infertility, about one-third of them are related to male infertility. 

Our board-certified urologists at Bellingham Urology Group understand the emotional toll that infertility can have. That’s why we offer infertility services to both men and women in Bellingham and Mount Vernon, Washington. If you’re struggling to conceive, we encourage you to visit us to get the answers you need.

In the meantime, learn more about the most common causes of male infertility and how we can help.

Trauma or injury

Any trauma or injury to the testicles can cause issues with sperm production and delivery. Two examples of testicle injuries include testicular torsion and testicular rupture.

Chronic medical conditions and genetic conditions 

Any underlying health condition that affects the production of sperm, the quantity of sperm, or the quality of sperm can impact fertility. The following conditions can affect your fertility: 

  • Chromosomal defects or disorders such as Klinefelter syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperprolactinemia, where you have too much prolactin created in your pituitary gland
  • Complications from infections like testicle swelling that develops after being infected with mumps, gonorrhea, or chlamydia
  • Thyroid problems
  • Cryptorchidism (an undescended testicle)
  • Varicocele (varicose veins in the scrotum)  

Of the above conditions, varicocele is a common culprit, impacting up to 40% of men with infertility. When the varicose vein develops, it causes an increase in blood flow, which in turn raises the temperature of the scrotum. That can affect sperm quality. 

Lifestyle factors

Smoking and drinking alcohol may also contribute to male infertility. On its own, smoking can increase the risk of issues with abnormal semen production or volume, low sperm count, poor sperm motility (movement), and blockages that prevent sperm delivery. However, if you have varicocele and smoke, your risk of low sperm count is 10 times greater than if you are a non-smoker.

Excessive alcohol consumption can also cause fertility issues. In particular, researchers noted that excess alcohol consumption contributes to testicular atrophy and decreased testosterone and sperm production.

Other lifestyle factors that contribute to male infertility include:

  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle
  • Being overweight
  • Using illicit drugs
  • Heat stress (testicles)
  • Intense training (cycling)
  • Chronic stress 

The good news is that many of these lifestyle practices that affect sperm production and quality can be reversed when you adopt healthy Losing weight, eating healthy meals, and exercising can help improve your sperm count.

Pinpoint the source of your fertility

There are a lot of potential causes of infertility, and it’s nearly impossible to identify what’s causing your infertility on your own. That’s where we come into the picture. Before you embark on any fertility treatment plan, our team works to uncover the root problem through a comprehensive infertility evaluation. 

After a physical exam and a semen analysis, our team shapes a treatment plan that may include:

  • Medications, including hormone therapy 
  • Guidance on lifestyle modifications to improve sperm count
  • Sex therapy
  • Surgery 

In many cases, you may find that a combination of treatment, such as lifestyle modifications paired with medication, help improve your fertility. Depending on your overall needs and desires, we can also assist with vitro fertilization (IVF) and minimally invasive sperm retrieval techniques. 

If you’re struggling with infertility, call or message the location of your choice and explore your fertility treatment options today.