31 January 2017

5 Common Causes of Male Infertility


Medical Director
Cesar Diaz-Garcia
MD PhD Assoc Prof
IVI London


In our everyday lives, male infertility issues can often be overlooked, as there tends to be more of a female-fertility focus in the media. However, at IVI UK we understand that this should not be the case as male-related infertility issues are just as important and relevant if you and your partner are having difficulties getting pregnant. Approximately 30% of fertility issues are due to male fertility factors, 30% due to female fertility factors and the remaining 40% of issues are due to either a combination of factors or unexplained.

Here are the 5 most common causes of male infertility:

  1. Quantity of sperm. Semen containing fewer sperm, or no sperm at all, can impact a male’s fertility if the female’s egg cannot be fertilised due to a lack of sperm. This is otherwise known as having a low sperm count. A low sperm count is clinically defined as having less than 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen. If you or your partner are concerned about your potential sperm count, you can check the quantity of your sperm via a sperm analysis.
  2. Quality of sperm. The quality of your sperm may be impacting your fertility, such as sperm mobility and having ‘abnormal sperm’. Decreased sperm mobility can impact the quality of your sperm as it can create difficulty for the sperm to reach the egg, and fertilise it. Many factors of abnormal sperm are unexplained but can be due to a variety of factors including an abnormal shape, making it harder for sperm to move and fertilise an egg. You can check the quality of your sperm via a sperm analysis.
  3. Testicular damage. Testicles contain your sperm and protect the delicate cells from the outside environment. Damage to your testicles can have a serious impact on your fertility by affecting the quality and quantity of sperm. Overheating sperm can seriously impact their quality. Keeping your testicles cool is important to maintain an optimum temperature of your sperm. Simple ways that you can help to do this include not sitting down for long periods of time and not wearing too tight underwear. Other causes of testicular damage are trauma, such as from sport, infection, testicular surgery, a congenital defect and undescended testicles.
  4. Ejaculation disorders. Having problems with ejaculation can impact your fertility if your sperm cannot reach the egg for it to be fertilised. Examples of ejaculatory disorders include premature ejaculation (where ejaculation occurs too early), retrograde ejaculation (where semen is ejaculated into the bladder) and the failure to ejaculate. If issues with ejaculating are impacting your fertility, then you may wish to learn more about Surgical Sperm Retrieval, which can be discussed with a Consultant at an IVI clinic.
  5. Lifestyle Choices. Choosing healthy lifestyle choices is one of the most important and manageable ways to improve your fertility. The following lifestyle choices can cause male infertility by damaging your sperm quality, quantity or sperm passage: excessive alcohol, illegal recreational drugs such as cocaine and marijuana, steroids, an unhealthy diet, obesity and unsafe sex leading to sexually transmitted infections/ diseases that can block the sperm passage.

At IVI clinics, ICSI is available for couples suffering from male infertility. The man must provide a semen sample, or undergo Surgical Sperm Retrieval if necessary, for the best quality spermatozoa to be selected and inserted directly into the female’s oocyte for the highest chance of fertilisation.

If you have any reason to think you might need your fertility checking, perhaps if you and your partner have been trying to conceive for over a year with no pregnancy, then you may wish to arrange a sperm analysis with IVI UK, or by asking your GP for advice.

IVI is a leading specialist in reproductive medicine and a pioneer in technological advancements and scientific research helping to improve your fertility.

If you would like to know more about the treatments available at our IVI clinics, then please see our website for information, or you can contact our UK Patient Support Services on 0800 52 00 161

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