Men experiencing infertility problems are not alone. Female factor infertility is also common and can include Infections of the testicles (orchitis, epididymitis) and enlarged veins (varicocele) in the scrotum sac, which can affect sperm count, quality, and movement. Nutritional habits like a high-fat diet can also lower semen quality.
Low Testosterone Levels
Men need to get tested for fertility problems early — it can spare their partners a lot of unnecessary discomfort and expense. For around 20% of infertile couples, the problem is solely caused by male factors.
Testosterone is the male hormone that stimulates sperm production in the testicles and promotes sexual maturation. Testosterone deficiency can lead to a low sperm count and erectile dysfunction, and it may cause hypogonadism (abnormal genitalia) in some cases. Hypogonadism in early gestation can cause a truncus orchid, and in adulthood, it can cause a micropenis.
To be fertile, a man needs healthy, high-quality sperm. This means the sperm must have enough mobility to swim through the vas deferens and fallopian tubes to reach the woman’s eggs. Several factors can affect sperm quality, including a low sperm count (azoospermia), blockages in the tubes of the reproductive system and abnormal sperm shape.
Male fertility problems can also be caused by alcohol use, smoking or other recreational drug use, poor dietary habits and excessive body weight. Certain medications can also affect fertility, including sedatives and antidepressants. Fortunately, supplements for male fertility offer notable benefits by providing essential nutrients crucial for optimal reproductive health. These supplements, often enriched with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, aim to enhance sperm quality, count, and motility, increasing fertility. These supplements provide a comprehensive strategy for improving male fertility outcomes and raising the likelihood of successful conception by addressing nutritional deficiencies and promoting overall reproductive function.
Low Sperm Count
Regarding sperm counts, the latest research seems to back up a global drop. A large analysis by Levine’s team compared results from 185 studies and found that the concentration of sperm per milliliter of semen has halved since 1973.
But Pacey is only partially isn’t convinced. He points out that the samples aren’t necessarily representative of the general population and that home kits used for sperm count have not been studied for accuracy and fail to look at other important factors like sperm morphology.
Nevertheless, he agrees that the decline in fertility should be taken seriously and that men worried about their fertility should consider talking to their doctor. He recommends a thorough physical, including a scrotal ultrasound, a test to measure testosterone and other hormone levels and possibly a sperm count.
He says that if the results show low sperm count, a doctor may also want to run blood work or check the scrotal sac with an X-ray to evaluate any potential problems. A doctor may also want to talk about lifestyle choices and suggest treatment. This could include dietary changes (avoiding processed foods, increasing consumption of vegetables and healthy fats), stopping smoking, reducing alcohol use, and being physically active.
Low Sperm Quality
The human body has a complex system that makes, stores and transports sperm. It takes a healthy combination of genes and hormone levels to work. If any of these systems become dysfunctional, it can interfere with conception.
Infections such as gonorrhea and chlamydia can lead to a low sperm count. Hormonal imbalances, such as those caused by medications, can hinder sperm production. Sperm ducts can also become blocked or damaged. This can be due to illness or a side effect from some medications, such as chemotherapy drugs or radiation treatment for cancer.
A man with a low sperm count, also known as oligospermia, is less likely to be able to fertilize his partner’s egg. To diagnose a low sperm count, a doctor will ask the patient for a semen sample. This sample can be collected at the doctor’s office, or the patient can ejaculate into a container at home. The sample will then be tested in the lab for sperm count, motility, and morphology. This will give the doctor a better understanding of the cause of the problem.
Abnormal Sperm Morphology
The structure of a sperm is key to its fertility potential. Each sperm contains the individual’s 23 chromosomes and must be in a shape and size that allows it to swim quickly toward its objective, fertilizing an egg in the uterus. Its sperm’s sidepiece and tail determine the sperm’s shape. A sperm with normal morphology has an oval head, a neck and middle section, and a tail that is not shaped like a paddle.
When a man has abnormal sperm morphology, it means that less than 30 percent of his sperm are considered to have a normal shape and size. The percentage will vary from lab to lab, depending on the criteria.
While a man with low sperm morphology can still fertilize an egg, it will take him longer to achieve pregnancy, and his odds of success are lower than a man with normal sperm count and motility. Thus, consult your doctor about assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) if you are experiencing difficulties conceiving naturally and have an abnormal semen analysis.
These procedures help to improve the percentage of sperm with normal morphology.
Men with a history of infections that interfere with sperm production or health, such as gonorrhea or HIV, may suffer from fertility problems. Likewise, those with untreated urinary tract infections or testicular inflammation (orchitis) can have permanent damage to their reproductive organs.
Often, a doctor will diagnose male infertility with a semen analysis and blood tests. These will look at the concentration, appearance, and motility of a man’s sperm. They’ll look for any antibodies that can hinder sperm activity.
Other reasons for male fertility issues include blockages in parts of the testicles, congenital disabilities and physical injuries to the genitals. These can cause a man to not ejaculate during sexual intercourse or lead to premature ejaculation. A condition known as retrograde ejaculation may also result from this in certain situations, in which the semen enters the bladder during sexual activity rather than the urethra.
Male infertility can also result from chromosomal abnormalities, genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, and certain drug interactions.
These can include long-term anabolic steroids, some cancer drugs and certain arthritis medications.