Starting a family can be a stressful process; there are many things that can affect a couple’s fertility—some which you may not have considered. For whatever reason, it’s often believed that infertility is a women’s issue, so male-factor infertility is commonly overlooked. But the fact is, males are found to be solely responsible for 20-30% of infertility cases.
At Arizona Center for Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, we ask for a thorough medical history and plan testing—for both female and male partners before jumping into treatments.. Our goal is to help couples have a baby, and discovering the cause behind infertility (whether it be a female or male factor) is essential.
The frequent causes of male infertility are:
- Low sperm count
- Low sperm motility
- Abnormal sperm morphology (shape and/or size)
- Issues with semen structure or composition
Why might these happen? There are several factors that can affect a male’s infertility, here are the five most common ones.
Most people know the impact a woman’s age can have on fertility, but a man’s age can have an effect on fertility as well. Although a man may continue to produce new sperm throughout his life, the quality of his sperm can be negatively affected by age. The amount of semen and sperm motility continually decrease as men get older. In fact, the risk of miscarriage is substantially higher for women whose male partner is older than 45 (versus those who have partners younger than 25).
Men who smoke, or have been exposed to secondhand smoke, often have reduced fertility. Smoking has been linked to decreased sperm count, lower sperm motility, and poor sperm morphology; it may also affect the DNA contained in sperm.
Alcohol can lower testosterone levels, cause erectile dysfunction, reduce libido, and decrease sperm production. Prolonged or excessive drinking can also lead to liver disease, which can impact fertility. A 2014 study published by BMJ Open, found that consuming just five alcoholic drinks a week can reduce sperm quality, and that more alcohol is correlated with weaker sperm.
Weight—whether it’s being overweight or underweight—can negatively impact a man’s sperm count and can decrease libido. Healthy eating and regular exercise are necessary for general wellbeing, but both are especially important when trying to conceive.
Heat, in extreme amounts, especially around the testicles, can impair sperm production and function, as well as damage the DNA in sperm. This includes heat from hot tubs, saunas, and electronics. However, this is typically only a temporary effect, and usually happens in extreme conditions or with regular exposure, so it shouldn’t be too great a concern.
Treating Male Infertility
If you are worried about your fertility or possible conditions that may lead to infertility, our team at AZCREI can help. During your initial consultation, we’ll discuss possible causes and then schedule the appropriate tests to help us determine the best treatment options (for either male-factor infertility or female-factor infertility).
In general, male infertility may be treated through medical, surgical, or assisted reproductive therapies. Typically, we will try to treat the underlying medical cause of male infertility first. If that doesn’t solve the problem, we will move on to more advanced treatments, including Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ISCI) or utilizing a sperm donor.
Ultimately, it’s our goal to help every couple have a healthy, happy baby. There very well might be a combination of both male and female factors that are causing the difficulty behind conceiving. As we go through testing and creating a treatment plan, we always try to optimize fertility—on both sides—and correct any problems to achieve a pregnancy.
For more information on how AZCREI can help you have a baby or to schedule a visit, give us a call at (520) 326-0001 or contact us online.