Male infertility is a man’s inability to cause pregnancy in a fertile woman. In one out of five infertile couples the problem lies solely in the male partner.
Male infertility is usually symptom-free. If the intercourse, erection and ejaculation happen without any difficulty, i.e. the male partner doesn’t have any erectile dysfunction problems, there are no obvious signs of infertility. However if the problem is caused by a certain health condition, it may produce such symptoms as:
- pain and swelling in the testicles, which can be the sign of infection or a sexually transmitted disease
- blood in the semen
- pain after emission of seminal fluid
- not being able to ejaculate when having sexual intercourse
- difficulty emptying the bladder.
In the absence of these symptoms, medical testing and advice is still needed if the couple has been trying to conceive a baby for a year, but pregnancy hasn’t occurred.
Although 25% of male infertility are autopathic (i.e. with no apparent cause), it is commonly due to deficiencies in semen. It may be that:
- the man doesn’t have enough sperm in the semen
- the sperm doesn’t move as fast as needed
- the sperm is the wrong shape or the quantity of ejaculated semen is poor
In most cases these 3 things occur together. One of 5 infertile men has no sperm at all in the semen. This condition is called azoospermia. It occurs due to ejaculatory duct obstruction when the tubes leading sperm from the testes to the penis are blocked causing a complete lack of sperm in the ejaculated semen. Obstruction can be either congenital or acquired as a result of infection or surgery.
Other less frequent causes of male infertility include: hypogonadism when not enough testosterone is produced in the pituitary gland or hypothalamus; sperm antibodies, which sometimes may affect fertility and ejaculation disorders, including retrograde or premature ejaculation.
Smoking, excessive drinking, excess weight, diabetes, anabolic steroids, testicular atrophy or too high scrotum temperature, prostate surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, some medicines and illegal drugs, stress, some psychological issues and certain jobs are all contributory causes of infertility in men.
It is also worth mentioning that male fertility declines as man gets older, though not to the same extent as female’s. Treatment of male infertility depends on what has caused the fertility problem.
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