- Published: Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Male infertility refers to a male's inability to cause pregnancy in a fertile female and it accounts for 40-50% of infertility. It has many causes, from genetic and/or medical abnormalities to lifestyle issues. A man’s fertility reflects his general health. Men who live a healthy lifestyle are more likely to produce healthy sperm. Some of the lifestyle choices that can damage a man’s sperm and cause male infertility, all of these can reduce both sperm counts and sperm’s ability to swim are:
- Regular use of marijuana and other recreational drugs
- Chronic high alcohol intake
- Anabolic steroid use and high intensity exercise- can cause testicular shrinkage and reduced testosterone leading to infertility.
- Exposure to environmental hazards and toxins such as pesticides, lead, paint, solvents, radiation and heavy metals.
- Regular poor high carb ‘fast food’ diet with too few vitamins and too much processing can’t to protect your sperm from ‘free radical’
In most cases, there are no obvious signs of infertility. Intercourse, erections and ejaculation will usually happen without difficulty. The quantity and appearance of the ejaculated semen generally appears normal to the naked eye. Medical tests are needed to find out if a man is infertile. Although most men with male infertility do not notice symptoms other than inability to conceive a child, signs and symptoms associated with male infertility include:
- Problems with sexual function — for example, difficulty with ejaculation or small volumes of fluid ejaculated, reduced sexual desire or difficulty maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
- Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicle area
- Recurrent respiratory infections
- Inability to smell
- Abnormal breast growth (gynecomastia)
- Decreased facial or body hair or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality
- Having a lower than normal sperm count (fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen or a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculate)
If you have been trying for a baby with your partner unsuccessfully for twelve months you need to see your doctor for advice especially if you have a problem that could interfere with your fertility for example:
- History of undescended testicles
- Injury or trauma to the testicles
- Sexually transmitted infections
Your doctor may examine you and arrange for you to have a semen analysis.
If the semen analysis reveals problems with your sperm count, motility and/or shape (known as morphology) we can refer you to see a fertility specialist.
The fertility specialist will examine your testicles to see if there is any physical sign of a specific fertility problem and will often also arrange for you to have further tests, these may include:
- A blood test to check your fertility hormones
- Ultrasound scan of the scrotum to detect any possible blockage
- Genetic tests in some cases which will help assess any potential additional ‘heritable’ risks to your children
- Post-ejaculation urine analysis in a few cases
Results of relevant selected tests, along with a discussion with you of your medical history and personal wishes will help the specialist to guide you to the best treatment.