When a couple plans on having a child, they often have high expectations and are excited at the prospect of adding to their family.
Unfortunately, an estimated 15 to 20 percent of all couples are infertile. In 50 percent of these cases, the problem lies with the male.
Male infertility can be due to several causes, including abnormal sperm function, blockage of sperm, illnesses, injuries, lifestyle choices, low sperm production, and more.
While being infertile is frustrating, there are a wide range of treatments available to help improve the couple’s chances of having a child.
Common Symptoms of Infertility
Obviously, the main symptom of infertility is the inability for a man to impregnate a woman, however, there is sometimes underlying problems, such as a hormonal imbalance, which prevents this from occurring.
Although most men never notice any other symptoms, the signs and symptoms, other than the obvious, include some of the following:
- A lower than normal sperm count (this would be less than 15 million per ml of semen)
- Pain, swelling, or lumps in the testicles
- Continuous respiratory infections
- Sexual dysfunction, including reduced sexual desire or difficulty with ejaculation
- Little or no sense of smell
- Growths in the breast(s)
- Decreased hair growth (beard or body hair)
If you and your partner have been unable to conceive a child after one year of regular, unprotected sex, and the female has been ruled out as having possible problems, and you have one or more of the following conditions:
- Problems with erections, ejaculation, or other dysfunctions
- If you have pain or discomfort in the testicle area
- If you have a family history of prostate or testicle problems
- If you have had groin, scrotum, penis, or testicle surgery
You should consult a physician to ascertain what the exact problem might be.
Possible Causes of Male Infertility
Causes for male infertility are quite varied and can be caused by environmental issues, medical problems, as well as health or lifestyle choices. Some of the possible causes can be:
- Ejaculation problems
- Antibodies attacking sperm
- Tumors or cancer
- Undescended testicles
- Hormone imbalances
- Defects in the tubes that transport sperm
- Certain medications
- Chromosome defects
- Erectile dysfunction
- Celiac disease
- Previous surgeries
Health and Lifestyle Choices
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Recreational Drugs
- Tight underwear
- Prolonged periods of sitting
- Exposure to heavy metals
- Frequent use of hot tubs, spas, or saunas
- Industrial chemical exposure
- X-rays or radiation
- Prior illness (such as chicken pox later in life)
Infertility can be stressful for couples. Some men feel embarrassed and “less manly” because they cannot father a child. Don’t wait to speak to someone about your concerns. If you are having relationship problems because of this, seek counseling.
If you suspect that you might be infertile, speak to your doctor so the correct determination and course of action can be taken, if possible.