Male Infertility

Infertility is the inability to reproduce by natural means. Causes of male infertility include low or abnormal sperm production or blockages that hinder the delivery of sperm. While symptoms often go unnoticed (except in the case of being unable to conceive a child), some other signs include problems with sexual function, pain or lumps in the testicles, hormonal abnormalities and having a low sperm count.

Causes

Testicular Causes

Testicular factors refer to conditions where the testes produce semen of low quantity and/or poor quality despite adequate hormonal support and include:

  • Age
  • Genetic defects on the Y chromosome
  • Abnormal set of chromosomes
  • Neoplasm
  • Idiopathic failure
  • Cryptorchidism
  • Varicocele
  • Trauma
  • Hydrocele
  • Mumps
  • Malaria
  • Testicular cancer
  • Acrosomal defects affecting egg penetration
Pre-testicular Causes

The prostate gland is a small gland that is only found in men. It is located between the penis and bladder and it surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis).

Conditions that can affect the prostate gland include:

  • Low male hormone levels due to various causes such as obesity
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Strenuous riding, such as bicycle riding and horseback riding
  • Medications, including those that affect spermatogenesis such as chemotherapy, anabolic steroids, cimetidine, spironolactone; those that decrease FSH levels such as phenytoin and those that decrease sperm motility such as sulfasalazine and nitrofurantoin
  • Genetic abnormalities
Post-testicular Causes

Post-testicular factors decrease male fertility due to conditions that affect the male genital system after testicular sperm production and include defects of the genital tract as well as problems in ejaculation:

  • Vas deferens obstruction
  • Lack of Vas deferens, often related to a disease (Cystic Fibrosis)
  • Infection, e.g. prostatitis
  • Retrograde ejaculation
  • Ejaculatory duct obstruction
  • Impotence

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