Abc’s of Male Infertility

Age: It is not clear what the effect of aging is on male fertility. However, evidence of late suggests that it may be a factor (although not to the degree that it is in women). This evidence shows that age-related sperm changes in men is a gradual process. Aging can adversely affect sperm counts and sperm’s ability to swim quickly and move in a straight line.

Bicycling has been linked to impotence in men and also may affect fertility. Pressure from the bike seat may damage blood vessels and nerves that are responsible for erections.

Certain cancers and their treatments, especially testicular cancer, hinder sperm production, often severely. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation can damage sperm quality and quantity, causing infertility.

Defective Genetic Material: Sperm carry half the genetic material necessary to make a human being. Infertile men have been reported to have a relatively high percentage of sperm with broken or damaged DNA.

Environmental Assaults: Exposure to toxins, chemicals, or infections may reduce sperm count either by direct effects on testicular function or by altering hormone systems, although the extent of the impact and specific environmental assaults involved are questionable. Some experts believe it is contributing to a general worldwide decline in male fertility.

Excessive Exercise has been associated with reduced sperm production.

Fertilizing a woman’s egg must be achieved in order to get his partner pregnant. Therefore, a man must be able to deliver healthy sperm into the vagina. Sperm must be properly shaped and able to move toward the egg for fertilization to occur. If the shape and structure (morphology) of the sperm are abnormal or the movement (motility) is impaired, sperm may not be able to reach or penetrate the egg.

Glandular Infections in the Urinary Tract or Genitals: Glandular infections that may affect fertility include prostatitis (in the prostate gland), orchitis (in the testicle), semino-vesculitis (in the glands that produce semen), or urethritis (in the urethra), possibly by altering sperm motility.

Heavy Substance Abuse: Cocaine or heavy marijuana use appears to temporarily reduce the number and quality of sperm by as much as 50%. Sperm have receptors for certain compounds in marijuana that may affect the sperm’s ability to swim and also keep them from penetrating the egg. Very heavy alcohol use can also affect fertility.

Impotence: (Erectile Dysfunction) is when a man has problems getting or maintaining an erection long enough for sex. It happens when not enough blood flows to the penis.

Inherited Disorders that Affect Fertility: Certain inherited disorders can impair fertility such as Cystic fibrosis, Klinefelter syndrome, Kartagener syndrome and Polycystic kidney disease.
Jumpstart Fertility by acquiring healthy habits. Eat healthy. Exercise moderately and abstain from heavy substance abuse.
Kidney or liver failure, chronic anemia, diabetes HIV, thyroid disease, Cushing syndrome, heart attack, or any severe injury or major surgery are medical conditions that can affect male fertility.

Low Sperm Count: There has to be enough sperm in the semen to make pregnancy likely. A normal sperm concentration is greater than or equal to 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen. A count of 10 million or fewer sperm per milliliter of semen indicates low sperm concentration.

Lubricants used with condoms, including spermicides, oils, and Vaseline, can affect fertility. Astroglide, Replens, or mineral oil may not be as harmful to sperm. However, oil-based lubricants can damage latex condoms and should be avoided.

Medications: The effects of medications on sperm quality and count have not been studied in depth, and many medicines are commonly prescribed without knowing whether they impair fertility. Anabolic steroids (which have been overly abused by weight lifters and other athletes) deserve special attention because they are known to severely harm sperm production. Among the other drugs that can affect male fertility are cimetidine (Tagamet), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), salazopyrine, colchicine, methadone, methotrexate (Folex), phenytoin (Dilantin), corticosteroids, spironolactone (Aldactone), thioridazine (Mellaril), and calcium channel blockers.

Mumps: When mumps develop after puberty, it damages the testicles in 25% of men afflicted with the disease.

Mycoplasma is an infectious organism that appears to fasten itself to sperm cells and render them less motile.

No semen (ejaculate). The absence of ejaculate may occur in men with spinal cord injuries or diseases. This fluid carries the sperm from the penis into the vagina.

Obesity may be a risk factor for male infertility. A 2006 epidemiological study found that a 20-pound increase in a man’s weight increased the chance for infertility by about 10 percent.

Premature ejaculation can occasionally make fertilization difficult or impossible for couples who are trying to become pregnant.

Question your doctor: When a couple has failed to conceive after one year of well-timed intercourse, they should seek expert care. In cases where the woman is older than age 35, treatment should be sought after six months of well-timed intercourse.

Repeated Chlamydia trachomatis or gonorrhea infections are most often associated with male infertility. Such infections can cause scarring and block sperm passage. Human papilloma viruses, the cause of genital warts, may also impair sperm function.

Smoking impairs sperm motility, reduces sperm lifespan, and may cause genetic changes that affect the offspring.

Stress may interfere with the hormone GnRH and reduce sperm counts.

Testicular Overheating: High fevers, saunas, and hot tubs, may temporarily lower sperm count. Persistent exposure to high temperatures during work may impair fertility.

Undescended testicle: The testicles make male hormones and sperm. Usually both testicles are inside the scrotum. While male babies are still growing inside the uterus, their testicles are inside their abdomen. The testicles usually move down into the scrotum just before or just after birth. An undescended testicle is one that did not move down into the scrotum.

Varicocele: This is when the veins in the scrotum become enlarged, twisted or swollen (similar to varicose veins in the leg). This heats the inside of the scrotum and may affect sperm production.

Wearing tight-fitting pants and underwear. According to a study on “Tight-fitting Underwear and Sperm Quality” published June 29, 1996, in the scientific journal The Lancet. Tight-fitting underwear is not recommended for men trying to father a child because it may raise testes temperature to a point where it interferes with sperm production.

X Chromosomes play a role in some forms of male infertility that result from low sperm counts. Scientists have found that almost half the genes related to sperm production reside in the X chromosome, universally thought of as the female sex chromosome. Many genes for early male sperm production reside on the X Chromosome.

Your loss of libido (reduced or lost interest in sex) can also be a factor in male infertility.

Zinc, folate, selenium, vitamins C & E deficiencies in men may be particular risk factors for infertility.

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