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According to WomensHealth.gov, approximately one-third of infertile couples have problems with male infertility. Male infertility usually occurs when men produce damaged or insufficient amounts of sperm. It can also be caused by blockages that keep sperm from being ejaculated.
There are a variety of risk factors for male infertility. They include:
Sperm problems are a major cause of infertility in men. These disorders include:
A number of factors can affect sperm production.
Varicocele is a common cause of male infertility. Men with this condition have enlarged veins around the vas deferens. The vas deferens are the ducts that carry sperm from the testicles to the urethra.
Varicocele causes blood to pool around the testicles. This makes the temperature inside the scrotum increase. Heat can lower sperm production.
Infections can interfere with sperm production, health, and movement. They can also cause scarring that blocks the passage of sperm.
Infections that can affect fertility include:
Certain medications can affect sperm production and impair fertility. These include:
This condition occurs when one or both testicles do not descend from the abdomen during fetal development. It can interfere with sperm production and movement.
Hormonal imbalances can affect sperm growth and maturation. They can also prevent the release of sperm and affect sex drive.
Hormonal problems may begin in the brain or the testicles. Glands in the brain control hormone production. However, most hormones related to sperm production are made in the testicles.
A number of other factors are also associated with male infertility, including:
Certain genetic conditions can affect fertility. For example, men with cystic fibrosis may be born without sperm ducts. Chromosomal diseases can also affect development of the male reproductive tract.
Injuries can cause scarring in the sperm ducts that carry sperm from the testicles. One cause of such scarring is extended bicycle riding.
Men with retrograde ejaculation ejaculate backward into their bladders. This condition makes conceiving difficult. Retrograde ejaculation can be caused by a variety of things, including:
Spinal cord injuries can also cause a complete lack of ejaculation. However, men may still make sperm, even if they do not ejaculate it.
Concerns about infertility can cause sexual problems within couples. However, sexual problems can also contribute to infertility by reducing opportunities to conceive. Such problems include:
Infertility in men may also have environmental or lifestyle causes, including:
Behaviors that can increase the temperature of the testicles include:
Working with your laptop on a desk or support can reduce the amount of heat on your testicles. This may be a simple way for some men to improve their fertility.
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Medically reviewed on: Jul 22, 2014: Kenneth R. Hirsch, MD
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