What is male infertility?
Reproduction (or making a baby) is a simple and natural experience for most couples. However, for some couples it is very difficult to conceive.
A man’s fertility generally relies on the quantity and quality of his sperm. If the number of sperm a man ejaculates is low or if the sperm are of a poor quality, it will be difficult, and sometimes impossible, for him to cause a pregnancy.
Male infertility is diagnosed when, after testing both partners, reproductive problems have been found in the male.
How common is male infertility?
Infertility is a widespread problem. For about one in five infertile couples the problem lies solely in the male partner.
It is estimated that one in 20 men has some kind of fertility problem with low numbers of sperm in his ejaculate. However, only about one in every 100 men has no sperm in his ejaculate.
What are the symptoms of male infertility?
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.
Known causes of male infertility
Sperm production problems:
- Chromosomal or genetic causes;
- Undescended testes (failure of the testes to descend at birth);
- Torsion (twisting of the testis in scrotum);
- Varicocele (varicose veins of the testes);
- Medicines and chemicals;
- Radiation damage;
- Unknown cause.
Blockage of sperm transport:
- Prostate-related problems;
- Absence of vas deferens;
Sexual problems (erection and ejaculation problems):
- Retrograde and premature ejaculation;
- Failure of ejaculation;
- Erectile dysfunction;
- Infrequent intercourse;
- Spinal cord injury;
- Prostate surgery;
- Damage to nerves;
- Some medicines.
- Pituitary tumours;
- Congenital lack of LH/FSH (pituitary problem from birth);
- Anabolic (androgenic) steroid abuse.
- Injury or infection in the epididymis;
- Unknown cause.