Male infertility is a man’s health problem that reduces his ability to help his partner get pregnant. Of the many causes of infertility in both men and women, one-third of infertility cases are in men. It is usually caused by problems with sperm production or the ability of sperm to reach an egg. Let’s find out what causes infertility in men in this article!
Reproductive function in men
Like women, male fertility is a complex process. To be able to support his partner to get pregnant, a man needs to meet the following conditions:
First, the man must be able to produce healthy sperm. This is a result of the formation and development of male reproductive organs during puberty. At least one of the testicles is able to function properly as well as the body to synthesize enough testosterone and other hormones to trigger and maintain sperm production. After sperm are produced in the testicles, the attached tubes mix with semen and are ejaculated out of the penis.
The next condition is to have a sufficient number of sperm in the semen. Too low a count reduces the chances of one of the sperm fertilizing the egg.
Finally, sperm must be functional and able to move. If movement is poor or mobility is limited, it is difficult for sperm to reach or penetrate the egg to fertilize it.
Causes of infertility in men
Medical causes of male infertility
Problems that impede male fertility can be the result of medical conditions or treatment interventions for other conditions.
Varicose veins: This condition, when the veins draining the testicles become abnormally stretched, is the most common cause of male infertility. Although the mechanism by which varicocele causes infertility is unknown, it is hypothesized that it may be related to the regulation of testicular temperature, leading to decreased sperm quality.
Infections: Certain infections, including sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea or HIV, can interfere with sperm production, and sperm health, or can cause scarring that interferes with sperm movement in the testicles.
Ejaculation problems: Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen enters the bladder during orgasm instead of needing to be released out of the tip of the penis. This condition can be a complication of other local or systemic diseases such as spinal cord injury, surgery on the bladder, prostate, urethra, diabetes, and medication.
Anti-sperm antibodies: These are cells of the immune system that mistakenly identify sperm as harmful invaders and attempt to destroy them.
Tumors: Cancers and benign tumors can directly affect the reproductive organs in men. In some cases, surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy is needed to treat a tumor, which can significantly reduce a man’s fertility.
Testicles do not descend: If during fetal development, one or both testicles do not descend from the abdomen into the scrotum, the testicles will be destroyed and fertility is limited.
Hormonal Imbalances: Infertility can be caused by endocrine dysfunction of the testes or the endocrine system including the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands. If low testosterone is measured, an underlying medical condition of male hypogonadism should be sought.
Blocked vas deferens: The vas deferens can be damaged and blocked due to trauma, accident, surgery, infection, or abnormal developments as in cystic fibrosis, an inherited disease. Obstruction can occur anywhere, from within the testicles, the tubes that drain the testicles, the epididymis, the vas deferens, to the urethra.
Chromosome defects: Genetic disorders such as Klinefelter syndrome, Kallmann syndrome, Kartagener syndrome, and cystic fibrosis cause abnormalities in the development of the male reproductive organs.
Problems with sex: These are obstacles encountered in maintaining an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse (erectile dysfunction), premature ejaculation, painful intercourse, anatomical abnormalities such as opening the urethral opening below the penis, or psychological problems during sex.
Celiac disease: This is a digestive disorder caused by a sensitivity to gluten. What’s more, celiac disease can cause male infertility. In that case, fertility may improve after adopting a gluten-free diet.
Certain medications: Testosterone replacement therapy, long-term steroid use, chemotherapy, antifungal medications, etc. can reduce sperm production and decrease male fertility.
History of surgery: Some surgeries can leave sequelae that limit the ability to ejaculate such as inguinal hernia repair, scrotal, testicular, and prostate surgery as well as major abdominal surgery.
Environmental causes of male infertility
Overexposure to certain environmental factors such as high temperatures, toxins, and chemicals can reduce sperm production or impair sperm function. These factors include:
- Industrial chemicals: benzenes, toluene, xylene, pesticides, herbicides, organic solvents, paint materials…
- Exposure to heavy metals: lead, mercury
- Radiation or X-rays
- High temperature: Too hot a working environment, tight clothing, frequent sauna, and hot baths can reduce sperm count.
Causes of male infertility due to habits and lifestyle
Drug use: Using cocaine or marijuana can decrease sperm count and quality.
Alcohol consumption: Alcohol lowers testosterone levels, causes erectile dysfunction and reduces sperm production. Liver disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to fertility problems.
Smoking: Men who smoke are observed to have lower sperm counts than non-smokers. Passive smoking can also affect male fertility.
Mental Emotions: Regular anxiety and stress can affect some of the hormones needed for sperm production. Many studies show that the chances of getting pregnant may be lower if your male partner is severely depressed. In addition, psychological disorders in men can cause sexual dysfunction due to decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation or inhibition.
Weight: Obesity can reduce fertility in many ways, including directly affecting sperm as well as indirectly causing hormone changes.
Occupation: Certain jobs that involve sitting for long periods of time may be associated with an increased risk of infertility.
When do you need to see a doctor?
The main sign of male infertility is the inability to help your partner conceive. In addition, there may not be any other obvious signs or symptoms. However, in some cases, if a man has underlying problems such as genetic disorders, hormonal imbalances, varicose veins around the testes, or the risk of blockage of the vas deferens. Go to the doctor early for intervention.
In addition, men should take the initiative to have a prenatal check-up if they see signs and symptoms related to male infertility, including:
- Problems with sexual function such as difficulty ejaculating decreased sex drive, or difficulty maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
- Pain, swelling, discomfort, or lumps in the testicles
- Recurrent respiratory infections
- Inability to smell
- Abnormal breast growth
- Reduce hair on the face or body areas
In summary, male infertility should be considered a real disease. Understanding the causes of infertility in men above will help each man to prevent himself and partly help orient the right treatment attitude, and timely intervention to ensure health and happiness.
Top News hopes this article can help you learn more about what causes infertility in men and wishes you always stay healthy and strong.
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