What Causes Infertility in Males?

Posted on November 9, 2017 by NYRW

For many couples, reproduction is a natural and simple process. Some couples though find it difficult to achieve. While female infertility can be the cause of a couple not being able to get pregnant, about 30 percent of infertility problems are a result of male infertility.

Sperm Quality and Count

Poor sperm quality and low sperm counts account for over 90 percent of the cases of male infertility.

If the number of sperm a man ejaculates is of poor quality or low in sperm count, it can be challenging, and sometimes not possible, for him to do his part in creating a pregnancy after ovulation induction.

In order to produce healthy sperm, a male must have at least one testicle functioning adequately. In addition, the body must be producing enough testosterone to trigger (and continue making) sperm production.

Once the sperm is produced in the testes, it must have the ability to be mixed with semen and transported through delicate tubes to be ejaculated through the penis.

Further, a man must produce enough sperm able to fertilize his partner’s egg. If a man has less than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen or less than 30 million per ejaculation, he is said to have a low sperm count. If this is the case, it decreases his odds of having his sperm fertilize his partner’s egg.

Another important factor relating to the quality of sperm in its motility. If the sperm has abnormal motility (or movement), it may not be capable of reaching the partner’s egg or fertilizing it.

Other Medical Factors Impacting Male Fertility

Although most male infertility problems are caused by the quantity or quality of sperm, there are some other medical reasons that could be leading to infertility and conception trouble.

One of these factors is varicocele, which is a condition that causes swelling in the veins draining the testicle. Varicocele results in a decreased quality of sperm, but it is a reversible condition. Treating this condition can not only improve sperm function and count, but may also improve results of in vitro fertilization (IVF), or intrauterine insemination (IUI), or other assistive reproductive procedures.

Other health issues that can play a role in male fertility include:

  • Infections
  • Tumors
  • Retrograde ejaculation
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Undescended testicles.
  • Tubal defects
  • Genetic chromosomal abnormalities
  • Celiac disease
  • Prior surgeries

Certain medications may also be impacting sperm quality, function, and count. These include antifungal medications, chemotherapy, anabolic steroid use (long-term), and testosterone replacement therapy.

Environmental Factors Affecting Fertility

Having overexposure to some environmental elements can affect sperm function and production. These are:

  • Overheating the testes
  • Industrial chemicals
  • X-rays
  • Radiation
  • Heavy metals

Lifestyle Factors Affecting Fertility

Some other lifestyle choices could affect male infertility, including:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Using illicit drugs
  • Having prolonged emotional stress
  • Being obese
  • Working at occupations that involved prolonged sitting.

To find out if a man is infertile, fertility evaluation for men is required. New York Reproductive Wellness provides these simple, new invasive tests. To learn more, please contact us at (516) 757-7673 to schedule an appointment.



American Society for Reproductive Medicine
College of American Pathologists
Fertile Hope
Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology
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