male infertility causes

How Men Can Fight Against Male Infertility Causes

We often see male patients determined to understand the culprit behind male infertility causes. Typically, male infertility occurs as a result of multiple factors. Fortunately, urologists specialize in male infertility and can provide you with several types of treatments to help you conceive. Depending on your diagnosis, you may need specialized treatment for your infertility. 

Learn more about the top male infertility causes and treatment options that are available below. 

Male Infertility Causes

1. Low Sperm Count

Low sperm count is a common cause of male infertility . This condition can be caused by poor sleep, high levels of stress, chronic exposure to pesticides and other harmful chemicals, lack of exercise, and/or an underlying medical condition. Seeing a urologist for a check-up, using protection during sex, eating healthy, exercising, and avoiding toxins and heat can increase your sperm count naturally. 

2. Varicocele

A varicocele is a swollen vein in the testicle, which is the most common cause of infertility in men. These veins are responsible for draining the testicle in the scrotum. Varicoceles can occur on either side of the testicle but are usually seen on the left side. For the most part, varicoceles are easily repaired with surgery. With this surgery, sperm can be better produced. If you are diagnosed with varicocele and decide to have surgery, keep in mind it will take a few months for the sperm to come back.

3. Past Treatment, Trauma, or Surgery

Trauma, testicular cancer, undescended testicles, or twisting of the testicles can result in a problem with male fertility. If you’ve had trauma to your testicular area, such as testicular cancer, you may be more at risk for male infertility. Undescended testicles usually resolve themselves shortly after birth. However, if you had an undescended testicle in the past, there is a higher percent chance you will be infertile. 

If you’ve had a previous surgery, even abdomen, back, pelvis, or prostate surgery, this can affect fertility. Treatment for health conditions such as multiple sclerosis or diabetes may also be contributors to male infertility causes. Be as open as possible during your appointment with your urologist. Doing so will better help them determine the cause of your infertility concerns.

4. Toxins

Most men don’t realize how damaging toxins can be to your fertility. These include simple household toxins such as cleaners, BPA (which is found in most plastics), medical toxins such as chemo or radiation, and recreational toxins like drinking, smoking, and drug use. While some toxins are impossible to avoid, there are ways you can limit toxin exposure. For example, avoid using pesticides in your home or yard whenever possible. Talk with your doctor about alternatives to treatments that don’t involve toxins. You may also consider using glass instead of plastic for food. Most importantly, stop smoking and drinking while trying to conceive with your partner.

5. Medications and Hormones

There are certain medications that can hinder your sperm’s production, volume, or motility when it comes to conception. Provide a list of your current medications to your urologist during your appointment so that they can take a closer look at what may be a cause of your male infertility. Medications such as calcium-channel blockers (which could be used to treat high blood pressure and migraines) commonly impact fertility. Other medications that could impact your fertility include anabolic steroids, antibiotics, and antihistamine drugs. Talk with your doctor about past and present medication use to help determine if any of your medications could be hindering your sperm’s vitality and what the alternatives are.

During your appointment for male infertility causes, your doctor will also check to ensure that your hormone levels are normal. Although hormone problems aren’t a common cause of male infertility, they can play a role depending on different factors.

All men age — it’s an inevitable part of life that should be embraced. Staying on top of your health during every stage of life will help you take on the next stage even better. Check out our Man-to-Man Guide on Aging, including urologist-approved information to ensure you stay in great urological shape. 

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Possible Treatments for Male Infertility Causes

Surgery for Varicocele

A varicocele happens when the veins in your spermatic cord aren’t able to allow adequate blood flow. The backup of blood into the veins causes the testes to swell, affecting your fertility. Some experts speculate that varicoceles develop over time and form during puberty. Microscopic surgery is needed to repair the vein to return to normal function. Although you may experience some minor pain and bruising after the procedure, you should be able to return to normal activities in a matter of days.

Changing Your Intimacy Routine

Did you know the female egg is only able to fertilize for 24 hours during the five-day ovulation period? This means you and your partner have a small window of time for fertilization. In order to optimize your chances of conception, it’s best to have intercourse every 48 hours during the ovulation period. Ovulation kits can help you and your partner know when she is ovulating.

You may also consider staying away from lubricants during sex. These products can prevent the sperm from reaching the egg due to their lack of viscosity. In fact, sperm can’t travel well in most commercial lubricants. Talk with your doctor about lubricant alternatives to use when trying to conceive and staying on top of male infertility causes.

Related: Couple’s Guide: Coping with Infertility

Lifestyle Changes

While trying to conceive, it’s vital that both you and your partner do your best to remain in optimal health. The sperm and egg are affected by factors such as diet, smoking, drinking, exposure to toxins, lack of exercise, and obesity. Again, consider eliminating tobacco products and alcohol as they can negatively affect  your fertility. Stick to a urology-friendly diet and exercise a minimum of three times per week. Talk with your doctor about further steps you can take to control your weight, eat better, and exercise right.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

Many couples experience success with the advanced techniques of ART and are able to have a happy and healthy conception with both partners’ DNA. You have the choice of using Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), where your sperm is placed into your partner’s uterus during ovulation, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), where your sperm and your partner’s eggs are unified outside of the body to be fertilized and then placed inside of your partner’s womb, or Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), which involves placing a sperm into an egg cell and then transferring it back into your partner. 

Talk about these three options with your doctor if other treatment choices are not an option or were not previously successful.

How Urology Specialists Treat Male Infertility Causes

If you suspect you have a problem with male infertility, schedule an appointment to see your urologist. He or she will perform an exam and run some tests so you can discover if you suffer from male infertility. If you do, your urologist will determine what treatments are best for your particular situation. You may simply have a varicocele that can be corrected, need to change your sex practices, or need hormone replacement therapy. If none of these options help, remember that ART may be an option to help you and your partner have a child. 

Schedule an appointment with your urologist today if you and your partner have been trying to conceive without success.

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This content was originally posted in 2016 and refreshed in 2020.