Surprising Male-Factor Infertility Mysteries

Infertility is no longer an issue impacting just women. Statistics reveal that men are struggling with infertility at similar rates. Of the 12% of couples diagnosed yearly, 50% are due to male-factor reasons. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive naturally after at least 6 months of trying consistently. Men are surprised to learn about this diagnosis. However, there are multiple underlying causes of infertility. Unveiling the many causes and risk factors of infertility is key to getting the right treatment.


Analyzing your sperm

Male infertility is often measured by the health of a man’s sperm. A healthy sperm sample should have a high sperm count, strong motility, and a healthy shape. A low sperm count, called oligospermia, is one of the primary reasons for infertility. Some men produce no healthy sperm at all in the seminal fluid. Unhealthy sperm may not be as motile or have poor morphology. The sperm will, therefore, struggle to reach and fertilize an egg. Testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH) dictate sperm health. Should these hormones be chronically imbalanced, infertility is a possibility.

The physical threats to sperm health

Men can have a range of health-related issues that lead to infertility. For instance, the veins surrounding the testicles can enlarge and block sperm production, a condition called varicocele. Some men can be born with physical impairments, like undescended testicles or Klinefelter syndrome, that restrict sperm production. Some medical conditions like diabetes, infections, cancers, or prior surgery can impact sperm production. The use of certain medications like anabolic steroids, hormone replacement therapy, and chemotherapy drugs can lead to infertility.

Are lifestyle choices the issue?

Doctors can trace many cases of infertility to poor lifestyle decisions. These choices can trigger hormonal imbalances or interfere with reproductive function. For instance, studies show that excess smoking, alcohol, and recreational drug use reduces sperm health and may lead to infertility. Obesity and certain processed diets can also impact hormone production. High stress and anxiety are often overlooked causes of infertility. The high cortisol levels can impact sperm quality.

Your environment matters

There are multiple external triggers that have a negative long-term effect on male fertility. Overexposure to certain environmental toxins can impact reproductive health. Heavy metals, radiation, or certain chemicals at work can damage sperm. Studies show that consuming food and water in certain plastics can lead to suboptimal fertility and, eventually, infertility. Elevated temperatures of the testicles can also affect sperm production. This can come from storing cellphones in the front pocket, sitting with a laptop near the groin, or certain jobs.

What can you do about male-factor infertility?

If conceiving is challenging, see a doctor for a complete medical evaluation. The doctor can ask questions and perform tests to find the root cause of the issue. If lifestyle decisions are impacting fertility, making consistent changes over a long period is often enough to improve reproductive health. If there is a physical ailment like varicocele, there are surgical options available. In some cases, hormone medication may be enough to reverse the issue. Should these fail, there are a range of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), like in vitro fertilization (IVF), that can help with pregnancy. Discuss all the fertility treatments available and make the best choice.

Don’t be afraid to take action

Male infertility is a distressing diagnosis, especially for men trying to conceive. Some men wait months or years before getting tested out of fear of the results. However, finding the root cause is the key to making the right choices or receiving proper treatment to reverse the diagnosis. Even when all seems lost, there are medical reproductive tools like IVF that can put men on the path to parenthood. Take the first step to understanding, unveiling, and attacking infertility today.

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