For most men, the physical signs of infertility are not as obvious as a woman’s. The most common red flag is the inability to conceive after six months of regular, unprotected intercourse. Nevertheless, there are certain symptoms of underlying reproductive problems that contribute to decreased male fertility. Here are some telltale signs to watch out for.
Ejaculatory disorders are the most common sexual problem among men. Although the most prevalent of these is premature ejaculation, ejaculatory problems also include no ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, and retrograde ejaculation (when the ejaculate slides down the bladder).
By definition, premature ejaculation is when the ejaculate comes out during the first moments of intercourse or during foreplay. Although premature ejaculation is no sign that sperm production has been impaired, it causes distress for the man and woman and makes intercourse far less fulfilling.
Delayed ejaculation and no ejaculation are much rarer conditions. Delayed ejaculation is a condition where ejaculation takes too long, whereas no ejaculation is an orgasm that does not release semen. These disorders are usually caused by alcohol abuse and medications like anti-hypertensive medication or Valium. Retrograde ejaculation is not a symptom in itself, but it may be the underlying cause of no ejaculation.
Without the ejaculate, intercourse feels just as frustrating as premature ejaculation, except in this instance fertilization cannot take place.
Semen transport problems
Semen transport problems may be related to ejaculatory dysfunctions. The most obvious symptom is no ejaculate, but a low or no sperm count can also point to this condition. Symptoms of semen transport problems can only be detected during a semen analysis.
Problems in the testicles can impair male fertility by causing hormonal imbalances, impairing semen production, or blocking semen transport. Some symptoms to watch out for are:
*Masses on the scrotum. This is usually detected through a physical exam.
*Testicular swelling and pain
*One smaller testicle than the other
*Difficulty urinating or ejaculating
*Undescended testicles that were not surgically corrected at birth
It’s rare for hormonal problems to cause male infertility, but it does happen. Hormones are produced by the hypothalamus-pituitary-endocrine axis and a lot of conditions can disrupt the balance, thus affecting the testes’ ability to produce sperm. Some physical symptoms of hormonal problems include:
*Small, soft testicles
*Changes in hair growth patterns
*Changes in voice
*Enlarged breast tissue
A blood hormone test can also detect low testosterone levels and high prolactin levels. Prolactin is a hormone that stimulates breast milk production in women, but high prolactin levels can happen in men too. This can impair your testicles’ functions, causing abnormal sperm production and low testosterone levels.
Other risk factors
Certain lifestyle habits or health problems also make you more likely to be infertile. Medications for hypertension, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism can impair sperm production. Male fertility can also be negatively affected by weight issues; the extra layers of fat can surround the testicles, raising the temperature and causing sperm death.
If any of the symptoms above are present, make an appointment with your doctor immediately to find out the cause and treatment for the condition. Surgery should correct any physical obstructions, but most cases of male infertility have no obvious medical cause. In this case, it might be best to check your lifestyle and eliminate certain habits. A poor diet, heavy alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, and recreational drug use are some lifestyle factors that contribute to male infertility. Alternative medicine, herbs, supplements and acupuncture are also options to consider that are often helpful for overcoming male factor infertility. Talk with your doctor and other licensed health care providers about what makes the best sense for treating your condition.