Common Causes of Male Infertility

By some estimates, one in every eight American couples has trouble getting pregnant despite a year of trying. When this happens, doctors typically recommend evaluating for infertility. Up to 50% of problems getting pregnant are due to male infertility

While the causes of infertility are often complex, many cases of infertility can be overcome with fertility treatment. The road to a successful pregnancy for couples experiencing infertility starts with an evaluation by a fertility specialist. 

Board-certified urologist Mike Hsieh, MD, helps men experiencing infertility start or expand their family. Dr. Hsieh works closely with you to address your needs, performing a comprehensive evaluation and providing guidance on a recommended treatment plan. 

We encourage you to discuss your infertility with Dr. Hsieh. In this post, our men’s health experts have put together some information about the most common causes of male infertility. 

Low-quality sperm

Sperm quantity, motility, and structure are important factors in sperm quality. Good quality sperm is necessary for pregnancy. A normal sperm count ranges from 15 million to over 200 million sperm per milliliter of semen. You need enough strong, healthy sperm to reach and fertilize an egg. 

If you don’t have enough sperm, if your sperm has weak motility (ability to move), or if the structure of your sperm is abnormal, you can have trouble getting a woman pregnant. 

Erectile dysfunction

While erectile dysfunction (ED) doesn’t directly cause infertility, it’s often the result of an underlying condition with the reproductive system, which may contribute to problems achieving pregnancy. 

Testicular problems

Varicocele — when the veins that drain the testicle are swollen — is a common cause of male infertility. The resulting inflammation of this condition can diminish sperm quality. Often IVF or inseminations improve the chance of fertility when men have large varicoceles. 

Ejaculatory duct obstruction

Ejaculatory duct obstruction (EDO) is less common but shouldn’t be overlooked. It occurs when there is an obstruction of one or both ejaculatory ducts. This prevents you from expelling enough semen. If you notice a greatly reduced amount of semen when ejaculating, or none at all, it’s wise to discuss evaluation for EDO. 

Medications and lifestyle issues

Certain medications — such as steroids, cancer drugs, and testosterone replacement therapy — can impair sperm quality and production. Additionally, smoking, stress, depression, and excess alcohol intake can impact a man’s fertility. 

When you visit Dr. Hsieh, he performs a semen analysis and other tests to help diagnose the cause of your infertility. Armed with a diagnosis, he can recommend the best treatment options to help you start or grow your family.   

If you and your partner are having problems getting pregnant, we can help. To get started, call our office to arrange a consultation with Dr. Hsieh or request one online today.

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