Causes of Male Infertility
Roughly half of all fertility problems experienced by couples are a result of male infertility. Male infertility can be caused by a variety of things, including:
- Low sperm motility. If sperm do not move forward and at a reasonable rate, conception is much less likely to occur. Low sperm mobility can be caused by hormonal changes, medications, drug use, alcohol use, excessive caffeine, smoking, and testicular injury. IN addition, sperm motility can be affected by temperature. If the temperature of the testicles is too high, sperm motility is reduced. This can be caused by hot tubs, saunas, heated waterbeds, or even the wearing of tight underwear and tight pants.
- Low sperm count. If a man’s semen does not contain a sufficient number of sperm, he has a low sperm count. Low sperm count can be caused by many of the same things that can cause low sperm motility: hormonal changes, medications, drug use, alcohol use, excessive caffeine, smoking, testicular injury, and testicular overheating are all risk factors.
- Abnormal sperm. Having a high number of sperm that are not shaped correctly can affect fertility. IN addition to the above causes, exposure to chemicals and heavy metals can cause abnormal sperm.
- Sperm allergies.” There have been documented cases of sexually active men and women that can develop “sperm antibodies” that can impair sperm functions. In these instances, the solution is almost always assisted reproduction such as IVF or IUI.
- Varicocele. When the vein that supplies the testicle is enlarged, it is known as varicocele. A varicocele can cause the testicles to be warmer than usually, affecting sperm count and motility. A varicocele can generally be corrected through urological surgery.
If you are having trouble trying to conceive, it is important for the man to provide the physician a complete health history, particularly including use of medications, drugs, alcohol, caffeine, cigarette smoking and exposure to chemicals or heavy metals. Your physician can then determine the best treatment. Treatment can include:
- Lifestyle changes, such as decrease in smoking, alcohol, caffeine, drugs, there is no medical or drug treatment that is currently effective for the treatment of low sperm count, low motility or abnormal sperm.
- Occasionally a physician will try hormone treatment, such as clomiphene citrate (Clomid or Serophene). Clomid is a fertility medication used in females, and a limited amount of research suggests that it can positively affect sperm count or motility. Use of this medication for male infertility is controversial.
- Other reproduction assistance, such as IVF, IUI, or ICSI.