Reasons for Male Infertility
Many couples do not have the good fortune of begetting a child. Childlessness is on the rise in the world and male infertility accounts for 35% of its causes. Due to this reason, males must compulsorily consult a male infertility specialist to rule out chances of impotence. Awareness, diagnosis and timely treatment help in preventing infertility in men.
Causes for male infertility
- Low or no sperm count
For a foetus to be formed, the female's egg must be fertilized by the sperm. This is possible only when the male's semen contains sufficient amount of sperms.
A male's semen must contain more than 15 million sperm per mm of semen. Any quantity less than this is termed as a "Low sperm count". Low sperm count is the main cause for male infertility and is of 2 types- Azoospermia and Oligospermia. Azoospermia refers to a complete lack of sperm in the semen while Oligospermia refers to a low quantity of sperm in the semen.
- Sperm quality
It is not just enough if the semen contains enough sperms. The quality of the sperm too must be good to cause fertilization. Sperm quality is governed by factors like sperm motility, sperm morphology etc.
Sperm motility refers to the speed of movement of the sperm. If the sperm moves slowly through the cervical mucus, there are lesser chances of fertilization. A forward progression rate at 25µm/s second is required for the sperm to reach the ovum for ready fertilization.
Sperm Morphology refers to the sperm structure which in some cases, is abnormal. A sperm has normally ahead and a tail and any defects in either is said to term it as an "abnormal sperm". Males with abnormal sperms take longer to father children.
- Testicle damage
Testicles are the organs that contain the sperm and protect these fragile cells from the external environment. Any damage to the testicles may lead to sperm loss or damage and consequently, male infertility.
Testicular damage may be caused to wearing tight underwear, overheating, sports injury, infection, former testicular surgery, undescended testicles, birth defects etc. The testicles must be maintained at a cool temperature to preserve the quality of the sperm. Sauna and hot water baths, prolonged tanning, keeping the laptop over the groin for long periods etc. may cause overheating of the testicles and subsequent infertility.
During foetal development, the testicles may fail to descend from the abdomen into the scrotal sac. These undescended testicles may cause infertility.
- Ejaculation issues
The sperm of a male may be healthy and motile but if it is not ejaculated well, it will not reach the egg in time for fertilization. Many males experience ejaculation issues like inability to ejaculate, premature or early ejaculation, retrograde ejaculation where the sperm is ejaculated but reach the bladder.
Spinal nerve damage or intake of antidepressants may cause premature ejaculation. Retrograde ejaculation may be caused by diabetes, spinal injury, bladder or prostate surgery and also due to medicinal side-effects. Men with spinal cord injuries, HIV or sexual diseases etc. have difficulty in ejaculation. Erectile dysfunction is also a major cause for inhibited or retarded ejaculation.
- Lifestyle Causes
Smoking, excessive drinking, obesity, and psychological stress are major factors. Even diet is a crucial cause for male infertility as excessive intake of cola, caffeine, soya and red meat reduces fecundity in males.
- Health issues
Other health issues like celiac disease, varicocele etc also cause infertility. Infections like HIV, Epididymitis, Orchitis, Gonorrhea etc can cause testicular damage or blocking of sperm tubules.
- Environmental factors
Exposure to high radiation from X rays, heavy metals and chemicals like benzene, toluene, xylene etc through pesticides, herbicides or painting materials may cause low sperm count.
Male infertility consultation
Male infertility can easily be prevented through a consultation with an expert male infertility specialist. A male infertility consultation includes semen analysis, and blood tests to conduct hormonal analysis, chromosomal analysis or genetic screening.
Male infertility is 90% curable but it cannot be treated with over-the-counter medications. However, easy treatment is possible by consulting a male infertility specialist without further delay.