The Mayo Clinic defines infertility as being unable to conceive a child after about one year of actively trying by having frequent, unprotected sexual intercourse. In couples where the woman is over age 35, that timeframe is reduced to six months. Female or male infertility affects approximately 12-15%, or about one in eight, couples in the United States – certainly not uncommon.
Many factors contribute to a couple’s inability to get pregnant. These range from autoimmune diseases and genetic disorders to maternal age and even environmental conditions. In many cases, the exact cause of infertility is actually unknown or is a combination of things. Although it’s rarely discussed openly, male infertility is a contributing factor in approximately one-third of total infertility cases. The remaining two-thirds are distributed fairly evenly between female infertility, a combination of both male and female factors, and unknown causes.
At Viera Fertility Clinic in Melbourne, we know that facing even the possibility of infertility in either partner is difficult. However, because male infertility is not discussed often, less is understood about it. Thus, there seems to be more of a societal stigma attached to it. We take a compassionate, educational approach in our Melbourne fertility clinic and want to help you navigate these tricky waters. While the cause of male infertility in your particular case may not be preventable or treatable, we find that it’s easier for couples to determine the best fertility treatment path forward when they have a solid understanding of it.
Leading Causes of Male Infertility
Male infertility can be caused by a number of conditions. These include naturally low or abnormal sperm count, lifestyle choices, old injuries, and illnesses. Before diving into the top causes of male infertility, it’s notable that although age does play a small role, it is a much less significant factor than in women. Men do not generally see a decline in their sperm quality until age 40 to 45. In some cases, not until after age 55 – much later than when women experience a decline in their egg quality. Interestingly, frequent sex can also create healthier sperm, whereas it is not linked to improving the quality of eggs in women.
Although age is not a major contributing factor of infertility in males, there are other causes that affect strictly men.
Not Producing Healthy Sperm
In order to successfully get a woman pregnant, a man must produce a sufficient amount of high-quality sperm. They need good motility, or the speed and efficiency at which it moves. This requires healthy and properly-developed reproductive organs, as well as the right balance of hormones, including testosterone. If the testicles do not form properly during puberty or if they sustain any sort of injury, their ability to store and produce healthy sperm may be compromised.
Low Sperm Count
According to the Mayo Clinic, low sperm count is “fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen.” If a man’s sperm count is low, the odds of the semen reaching the woman’s egg and fertilizing it are significantly reduced. Varicocele, an enlarged vein inside one of the testicles, is responsible for low sperm count in about 40% of infertile men. About 10-15% of men experience a complete lack of sperm, likely caused by a hormonal imbalance or testicular blockage.
Some medical conditions prevent men from being able to ejaculate at all, such as spinal cord diseases or injuries. Others, including diabetes and bladder or prostate surgeries, may cause males to experience “retrograde ejaculation.” This occurs when, instead of exiting through the penis, ejaculation goes up into the bladder during orgasm. These are not common conditions, but certainly worth noting.
If you have concerns that male infertility may be preventing you and your partner from becoming pregnant, please contact us. We are here for a consultation at our Melbourne, FL fertility clinic. Our team of doctors and specialists will help you determine the cause of your infertility. Additionally, we help you navigate the next steps, such as fertility testing and treatment options. We understand that you may feel overwhelmed, but we will be with you every step of the way. Call us today at 321.751.4673 (HOPE).