Factors that Affect Male Fertility

There is no greater joy than beginning a family. For too many people, the journey to begin a family is complicated by infertility. It is estimated that 10 percent of women are infertile. Statistics on male infertility are lesser known but one can assume that half of all infertile couples are infertile because of an issue with the man’s sperm. When my husband and I were trying to get pregnant, we had several months of no luck. I did a lot of research on what can prevent fertility in both the man and the woman.

The best age for a man who is trying to conceive a child is 30-35 years old. If pregnancy does not occur within one year of trying, it may be wise to consult a fertility specialist. Problems that cause infertility in men can range from varicoceles to blocked sperm ducts. Let’s examine some of these causes.

A variocele is the most common cause of male infertility. Dilated veins in the scrotum can enlarge and raise scrotum temperature killing sperm. The scrotum and testes have evolved to protect the sperm inside of them. This evolution can be seen when a man goes from a warm room into the cold, outside air and his testicles actually shrink up near his body to keep the sperm more warm. Just as cold temperature is bad on sperm, hot temperature is as well. Men who have surgery to repair a variocele have a 65 percent success rate in being able to conceive a child during the two years following the surgery.

Another issue that may cause scrotum temperature to increase is hot baths or hot tubs. Like the heat caused by a variocele, the heat from the water can cause sperm death. Varioceles and the frequent use of hot tubs/hot baths can lead to oligospermia. Oligospermia is a low sperm count. Sometimes a low sperm count has no discernable cause but medications, such as chemotherapy for cancer, infections in childhood such as the mumps, hormones, injury, and genetics can all play a role in addition to varioceles and hot tub/baths. There is a debate about whether the heat from frequently using a laptop affects sperm counts but evidence is mixed.

Blocked sperm ducts may cause obstructive azospermia. Scar tissue is a common cause of a blocked sperm duct. Vasectomies are also classified as blocked sperm ducts. Surgery can be very helpful for these conditions. Vasectomies require a surgery to regain fertility and a blocked sperm duct requires surgery to repair the damage. If too much damage is done for repair, sperm can be collected in surgery and then used in IUI, IVF, or ICSI treatments.

Ejaculation is an important factor in regard to fertility. Some type of sexual intercourse is needed every few days to “clean the pipes” so to speak. If ejaculation does not occur, sperm motility and mobility is affected. It can be tempting to be afraid ejaculation will lower sperm count but it is actually beneficial as long as it isn’t a several times a day event.

Malformed and sperm with low motility (motility means the ability of the sperm to swim and meet the egg) are common hindrances to conceiving a baby. Motility of sperm can sometimes be helped by medications but usually in vitro fertilization provides the most success.

In summary, many things can affect fertility. Poor nutrition, genetic conditions, lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol, and drugs, weight gain around the belly (as this inhibits testosterone), and other environmental toxins may all contribute to a difficulty in conception.




http://health.ninemsn.com.au/pregnancy/complications/695106/am-i-infertile (based on women but still interesting and I grabbed some statistics from there)

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