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Definition of Male Infertility

About one out of every six couples who desire children has an infertility problem. This means that infertility is almost as common as diabetes in America.  The most generalized definition of infertility may be said to be the inability to beget a child after a year of regular intercourse without any kind of contraception. It generally takes one year to consider a couple or either of the party infertile. Infertility can be a problem for both men and women.

Historically, infertility has been considered a women's disease. It is only within the last fifty years that the importance of the male factor contribution to infertility has been recognized. The mistaken notion that infertility is associated with impotence or decreased masculinity may contribute to this fear. The good news is that the rapid research advances in the area of male reproduction have brought about dramatic changes in the ability to both diagnose and treat male infertility. The majority of couples suffering from infertility can now be helped to conceive a child on their own.

Male infertility is quite common these days and may be caused due to various reasons. When a man is investigated for infertility, his semen is taken as sample and sent to the pathological laboratory for medical tests. It takes a few days to bring about the result of the test. Male infertility is detected from the sperm count. If a man’s sperm count is less than twenty million per milliliter then he is considered to be at a risk of being infertile, on the other hand and if a man’s sperm count is less than five million per milliliter then he is considered to be sterile.

Symptoms of Male Infertility

The most important symptom of male infertility is that if the female partner is unable to conceive even after regular intercourse for a whole year without using any contraception. If a couple discovers that they are unable to conceive even after a whole year of regular intercourse, they must consider checking up with a medical practitioner. Men are tested on their sperm count. A low sperm count can be a serious symptom for male infertility.

Some other major symptoms which can lead to testifying for male infertility are a decrease in sperm motility and the abnormal shape of the sperm. Statistics show that forty percent of those couples who face infertility problems suffer from these symptoms. When the sample of men’s semen is sent to the laboratory for infertility test, the volume, quality and consistency of the semen is also checked along with the sperm count. Some of the common symptoms which are tested while investigating for male infertility are:

  • Any childhood problem or problems occurring while growing up
  • Serious illness like cancer, respiratory diseases, diabetes or some surgeries
  • Previous fertility event, if any
  • If the person has suffered from sexually transmitted disease
  • Sexual history
  • Timing of sexual intercourse
  • Frequency of sexual intercourse
  • Exposure to any kind of toxins like radiation or chemicals
  • If the person has suffered from allergies from medication
  • If there is a hereditary problem of sterility

All these factors contribute to being serious symptoms of male infertility. Men who are investigated for infertility may have one or more of these symptoms present in them.     

Causes of Male Infertility

While we generally consider the low sperm count in a man’s semen to be the most important cause of male infertility.  The most common identifiable cause of infertility in men is varicocele. This is a condition of enlarged veins in the scrotum that causes abnormalities in the temperature regulation of the testis. Enzymes that are responsible for both sperm and hormone (testosterone) production have an optimal temperature at which they operate most effectively. If this temperature is elevated by even one degree, sperm and testosterone production are adversely effected.

There may be a number of other factors which can be equally responsible for male infertility. Some such factors which pose a big threat to male infertility are:

  • Varicoceles – Varicoceles are the dilated veins which are found in the scrotum. Since the blood does not get drained from these veins, they are dilated. And as a matter of fact these dilated veins permit blood to settle in the scrotum and thus it has a negative effect on the sperm production leading to male infertility.
  • Problems in the Ductal system – Sometimes it happens that the duct which carries the sperm gets blocked or is even found missing. A man may also be born with bilateral congenital with the nonexistence of vas deferens.
  • Abnormalities in seminal fluid – Sometimes it is found that the seminal fluid in a man is very thick. This condition restricts the sperms to move easily through this fluid and reach the woman’s reproductive tract.
  • Immunologic Infertility – Sometimes men develop antibodies or immunologic response within their sperm. Some of the basic causes behind this abnormality include testicular infection, testicular trauma, testicular surgery and large varicoceles. This immunologic response is an important cause for male infertility.
  • Testicular Failure – When the sperm producing part of the testicles becomes unable to produce mature sperms in sufficient numbers then it is called a testicle failure in male infertility. Testicular failure may occur due to various reasons and at any stage of sperm production.
  • Facing difficulties in erection and ejaculation – A major reason for male infertility can be caused due to erectile problem and premature ejaculation. The patient who is facing problems like obtaining and holding on to erection, lack of ejaculation, premature ejaculation, retrograde and excessive masturbation may be investigated for sterility.
  • Cryptorchidism – This is a physiological disorder which occurs when a male baby is born without the testicles. Since the testicles are quite sensitive to temperature, then they may quit producing sperm, if they do not move down into the scrotum before adolescence. And the fact remains that they have a very high rate of malignancy.
  • Hormonal imbalance – The pituitary gland needs to get stimulated properly so that the testicles can produce adequate number of sperms. If somehow this hormonal secretion is decreased or absent in a man then it may cause male infertility.


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