Infertility does not affect only women — millions of men suffer as well. In fact, new studies show that in approximately 40 percent of couples dealing with infertility, the male partner is either the sole cause or a contributing cause of the infertility. Difficulties range from issues with sperm production to obstruction of sperm delivery.
The most common male infertility factors include azoospermia (no sperm cells are produced) and oligospermia (few sperm cells are produced). Other times, sperm cells are malformed or they die before they can reach the egg. In rare cases, infertility in men is caused by a genetic disease, such as cystic fibrosis, or a chromosomal abnormality.
The most common treatments for male infertility are IVF and IUI. Your doctor may also refer you to a urologist specializing in male infertility.
Factors That May Affect Male Fertility
A variety of lifestyle factors can play a role in a man’s fertility.
- Smoking: Men who smoke may have a lower sperm count than do those who don’t smoke. Secondhand smoke also may affect male fertility.
- Excessive Heat Exposure: Frequent use of saunas or hot tubs may increase scrotum temperature and temporarily lower a man’s sperm count. Anything else that slightly raises scrotum temperature — sitting for long periods, wearing tight clothing, or working on a laptop computer — can have a similar effect.
- Excessive Alcohol: Drinking alcohol has been shown to lower testosterone levels, lower sperm count, and potentially cause erectile dysfunction. Men with liver disease caused by excessive drinking may also have trouble conceiving.
- Stress: Emotional stress interferes with the body’s hormone production, which may affect a man’s ability to produce healthy sperm. Note that prolonged infertility is associated with stress, which in turn may affect fertility. That’s why it’s important to seek psychological counseling and emotional support during this process.