Common Causes of Male Infertility
Fertility struggles aren’t strictly an issue for women. About 11 percent of women in the United States have experienced fertility issues, while nine percent of men have dealt with similar struggles.
Problems with fertility can increase over time, as fertility in both men and women declines with age. Identification of a fertility issue is an important first step toward addressing and potentially correcting the problem. Many men don’t discover a potential fertility problem until they start trying to have children, which can complicate efforts at early detection and corrective action.
Here’s a brief guide to what causes infertility in men, potential signs of a fertility issue, and how to get connected with a local specialist.
Common Male Infertility Causes
What causes male infertility? Most problems can be traced back to one of the following:
- Varicocele: Enlargement of the veins serving the testicle is the most common cause of male infertility that can be medically reversed. If you’re wondering, “How does a varicocele affect fertility?” you’re not alone: Even fertility specialists aren’t quite sure why varicoceles disrupt the development of healthy sperm, although changes in testicular blood flow caused by the varicocele may be the root cause. Fortunately, a fertility specialist can remove these enlargements and correct the problem.
- Hormonal irregularities: Low testosterone production, or abnormal levels of other hormones produced naturally in the body, can inhibit the production of healthy sperm. Hormone treatments or medications may be able to correct this imbalance.
- Ejaculation struggles: These can include medical dysfunction such as retrograde ejaculation, or psychological or behavioral problems such as premature ejaculation, painful erections or intercourse, or other physical abnormalities that impede proper erections and ejaculation.
- Damage from infections or surgeries: Surgical scar tissue can disrupt proper sperm production and ejaculation, and infections can cause similar scarring along with inflammation or other complications. This damage is sometimes permanent, although in cases where healthy sperm is produced but not ejaculated, fertility specialists can develop a plan to retrieve the healthy sperm.
- Medications: Some medications and recreational drugs may disrupt healthy sperm production while taking the medication, and potentially long after the medication has ended. Give any fertility specialist your full medication history to see if you’ve taken something that might affect fertility.
- Tumors: Whether cancerous or benign, tumors can interfere with the normal functioning of sexual organs. Blocked hormonal glands are a common cause.
- Birth or chromosomal defects: Rare genetic conditions may result in abnormal sperm production and sexual organ functioning. Defective development of sex organs, including undescended testicles, can also create fertility challenges.
- Other medical conditions or complications. Certain diagnoses, like Celiac disease, may cause or contribute to fertility issues in men.
Potential Signs of Male Infertility
For many men, infertility can go undiscovered until they struggle to conceive a child with their partner. This can make it difficult to detect infertility prior to when fertility is relied upon. There are a few signs and symptoms that may signal potential fertility troubles, including the following:
- Pain, swelling, or injury to the testicles
- Known hormonal imbalances
- Erectile dysfunction or other erectile disorders
- Abnormal breast growth
- Low sperm count (if your sperm has been collected and evaluated by a fertility specialist)
- A medical condition known to affect fertility
- History of cancer, and cancer treatments
If you’ve noticed any signs of male infertility, or have been struggling to get pregnant with your partner, seek out a fertility specialist who can evaluate your sex organs and overall sexual health, identify the potential cause, and make a plan for treatment.
How to Find a Male Fertility Doctor Near Me
If you’re an established patient with a primary care doctor, you may want to discuss potential fertility issues with that doctor, and request a referral to a fertility specialist. Some fertility clinics require a referral from a primary care doctor, so this step can help you validate your concerns and get answers to general questions about the potential causes and treatments for infertility.
If you’re not connected with a doctor, you can search online for “male fertility specialist near me” to find local specialists who may be able to help. From there, read online reviews of that clinic and/or specialist, contact the office to find out if they take your insurance and, if you can, schedule an appointment directly without a doctor’s referral.
You might also ask friends and family who have dealt with infertility if they have any specialists they recommend. Word-of-mouth recommendations can be a reliable way to find a specialist that meets your criteria for a fertility expert as you start the process.
Fertility issues can be a sensitive subject for many men and their partners and trigger concerns about their physical health and ability to procreate. If you suspect you may have a condition affecting your fertility, seek out the help of a specialist who can identify the problem and develop a plan for treatment.