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The Most Common Causes of Male Infertility and What You Can Do About Them

If you and your partner are having trouble getting pregnant, it’s time for an appointment with a specialist. Your board-certified physician at Arizona Urology, with offices in Gilbert, Glendale, Goodyear, and Phoenix, has special training in male reproductive organs and provides compassionate infertility care. 

Infertility in the male partner is relatively common; one-third of infertility cases result from factors affecting the male. Infertility isn’t only a physical dilemma; it also can have negative psychological effects because you’re not able to achieve a much-desired goal. The diagnosis may strain your intimate relationship sexually and emotionally. It can also cause depression and/or anxiety in you and your partner. Seeking counseling during this trying period can help you manage difficult emotions. 

Infertility may result from one easily remedied problem such as an infection, but it can also have multiple causes, or a specific cause may not be found. Following are some common reasons for male infertility and what can be done to try to reverse the issue. 

Low sperm count/sperm quality 

If your sperm count is low, it may be the result of a varicocele, an enlarged vein in your testicle. Varicoceles cause approximately 40 percent of male fertility problems. They can cause your testicles to overheat, making the temperature too warm for sperm to grow. 

Your urologist at Arizona Urology lets you know if your varicocele needs to be surgically repaired to improve your fertility. The procedure closes off the varicocele, which redirects blood flow to normal-sized veins. This may cure the infertility problem and improve sperm quality. 

Sometimes one of the tubes that carry semen may be blocked. Using ultrasound, your physician looks for a blockage in these tubes. If one is found but your sperm production is normal, you may benefit from a surgical bypass operation

Not all sperm move well, and not all are shaped normally — they may have more than one tail or a crooked head and thus not be able to swim toward an egg. If problems with sperm count, quality, or delivery result in continued infertility and other treatments haven’t worked, assisted reproductive technology is available. Sperm can be used from normal ejaculation, extracted surgically, or obtained from a donor.  

Sperm delivery 

If semen shoots into the bladder instead of through the penis when you orgasm due to a bladder muscle that doesn’t contract as it should, you have a condition called retrograde ejaculation. When this occurs, your ejaculate may contain little or no semen, and thus be a cause of infertility. The cause might stem from a blood pressure medication. If the condition can’t be reversed, assisted reproductive technology can help. 

Hormonal disorder

You may have a hormonal disorder, which may account for about a third of male fertility issues. Testosterone is the hormone that causes masculine growth and development such as a deepened voice, growth of body hair, and growth of the penis and scrotum. 

If you’re diagnosed with hypogonadism, your body doesn’t produce sufficient testosterone and/or enough sperm. You can be born with the condition (primary hypogonadism), or it can develop after an injury or infection (secondary hypogonadism). The causes of the secondary type are numerous, including pituitary tumors and inflammatory diseases such as sarcoidosis. Supplemental testosterone decreases sperm production, so it’s not used to correct the hormonal disorder. 

Your Arizona Urology physician tests your hormone level with a simple morning blood test. Assisted reproductive technology techniques such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection, in which a single sperm cell is injected into a female egg, can be utilized in cases of hypogonadism. 

Health and lifestyle choices 

Lifestyle choices can impact sperm health. Sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea and herpes, if undiagnosed and untreated, can decrease male fertility by affecting sperm growth and health. 

If you smoke or drink alcohol, your sperm count can be affected. Certain medications such as anti-fungal drugs and drugs for ulcers can lower sperm count. Chronic illness such as kidney failure can cause infertility in males. If you and your partner want to get pregnant, leading a healthy lifestyle is the first step toward a healthy baby. 

Call Arizona Urology or send us a message today for expert treatment for male infertility and any other urological concerns you may have. 

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