Male Infertility - Large

If you’ve not been able to get pregnant after a year (or sooner if you’re older than 35), you may want to start looking for reasons. About 30 percent of the time, according to the National Institutes of Health, the male partner is the reason for infertility.

In order to naturally reproduce, your mate must be able to:  

1) Make healthy sperm that can fertilize your egg 

2) Have an erection 

3) Ejaculate so the sperm reaches your egg 

If you’re unable to get pregnant, problems with any of these could be the reason. Steven R. Lindheim, MD, Wright State Physicians Obstetrics & Gynecology, explains that infertility is not just a woman’s problem. Watch the video or read the transcript.


The Most Likely Causes

Your mate’s inability to make healthy sperm is the most common cause of male infertility. His sperm might be immature, abnormally shaped, or unable to swim. It’s possible his body doesn’t produce enough sperm, or it doesn’t produce any at all. The causes of sperm disorders include:

“Surgery is almost never required to treat infertility in men, unless sperm blockage is determined to be the cause,” says Dr. Lindheim.
  • Infections or inflammation   
  • Hormone or pituitary gland problems
  • Problems with his immune system (his body makes antibodies that attack his sperm)
  • Use of tobacco, marijuana, steroids, or heavy alcohol
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis or hemochromatosis

A blockage in the genital tract that stops the flow of semen is another cause of infertility. Sometimes the blockage is a genetic or birth defect. Or sexually transmitted diseases can cause infection and inflammation that blocks semen. So can scar tissue from surgery, or twisted, swollen veins in the scrotum. Other causes of infertility include erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, liver or kidney disease, or treatment for certain seizures.

Treatments for Your Mate’s InfertilityMale Infertility - Small

Some of the causes of male infertility are in your partner’s control. Avoiding those causes is an important step towards getting pregnant. 

Dr. Lindheim says that men who want to have a baby should avoid medications known to affect fertility. (Propecia, for example, can lower sperm counts). Testosterone supplements can result in no sperm production at all, he says. In addition, Dr. Lindheim cautions men to “try to get to an ideal body weight as best as possible; being overweight can produce estrogens and affect sperm counts.” 

If a physician determines that a hormone problem is the cause of your mate’s infertility, this may be treatable with meds. 

“Surgery is almost never required to treat infertility in men, unless sperm blockage is determined to be the cause,” says Dr. Lindheim. Although it is rare, if your mate has varicose veins in the scrotum, called varicocele, surgery to remove those veins can sometimes improve sperm quality.

Talk About It

“Stress is a huge factor in fertility-related issues,” says Dr. Lindheim, adding “that’s why open-ended communication is key. No one person should feel guilty.” He encourages couples to seek support groups and social workers who are available to help reduce the stress of infertility, adding that financial issues are a frequent reason for stress when dealing with infertility.

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