When He’s Infertile – What You Can Do

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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. It’s important to make an appointment to discuss your fertility concerns and have a basic evaluation. About half the time, the male has some contribution to a couple’s infertility. Most of the time, things can be done to improve his fertility.

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. Groll.
  • 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. Groll says that “men who want to have a baby should maintain a healthy lifestyle by avoiding tobacco use, excessive alcohol intake and testosterone/steroid supplements. Testosterone supplements can result in no sperm production at all. Men should try to maintain a normal body weight through a balanced diet and exercise.”

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

“Surgery is rarely required to treat infertility in men, unless sperm blockage is determined to be the cause,” says Dr. Groll. Although it is rare, if your partner has varicose veins in the scrotum, varicocele, surgery to remove those veins can sometimes improve sperm quality. Additionally, a small portion of testicular tissue may be removed to obtain sperm that’s used in fertility treatments.

Talk About It

“Stress is a huge factor in fertility-related issues,” Dr. Groll says. “Open communication between you and your partner is key. Most of the time both partners have factors that contribute to a couple’s inability to have a baby. No one person should feel guilty. We encourage couples to seek support groups and available resources to help reduce the stress of infertility.”

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.

Jeremy Groll, MD

Jeremy Groll, MD

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