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Causes of Male Infertility

According to Stanford University, about one in five couples in the U.S. will see a doctor for fertility issues. Fertility issues are traditionally seen as being squarely in the female domain, probably because men are more reluctant to see a doctor about highly personal medical problems. But male infertility is more common than you might think. If you and your partner are having trouble becoming pregnant, see your doctor to discuss possible fertility issues. The average guy makes about 1,000 sperm per heartbeat, according to The Wall Street Journal, but unfortunately, there are many factors that can decrease a man’s sperm count and affect fertility. Talk to your doctor about the possible causes of male infertility.

Medical Problems

Physical Abnormalities

Underlying medical problems can be the cause of male infertility. The problem may be a physical abnormality, such as a variococele. This refers to the enlargement of the spermatic veins, resulting in abnormal blood flow that can lower sperm count. Testicular torsion and damaged sperm ducts may also be to blame. If the bladder sphincter does not close during ejaculation, semen moves backward into the bladder. This is called retrograde ejaculation, and it can also cause male infertility.


Male infertility may also be the result of infections like syphilis, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, and influenza, which can all cause testicular atrophy, resulting in a low sperm count and low sperm motility. Some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) may also cause a blockage in the epididymis.

Hormonal Disorders

A variety of hormonal disorders can cause everything from low sperm count and low sperm motility to reduced libido and even impotence. Some of the hormonal disorders that may cause male infertility include hypothyroidism, or low levels of thyroid hormones, and hyperprolactinemia, which refers to elevated levels of prolactin, a hormone. Pituitary gland failure, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and hypogonadotropic hypopituitarism may also cause fertility issues.

Prostate Cancer

Many men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer will have fertility problems. Radiation therapy causes a decline in sperm production, usually followed by a complete elimination of sperm production over a period of a few years. Chemotherapy drugs for prostate cancer can also cause male infertility. Men who undergo a prostatectomy, which is the removal of the prostate gland and seminal vesicles, will no longer be able to ejaculate.


The male reproductive system is delicate. Trauma to the area can easily cause fertility issues. The ducts that carry sperm can rupture. Men of all ages should take care to always wear a protective cup while playing sports, especially contact sports like football and hockey.

Lifestyle Considerations

In addition to trauma, prostate cancer, and underlying medical conditions, lifestyle habits like diet and exercise can also affect fertility. Obesity can disrupt hormone levels, lower sperm counts, and even reduce your libido. Exercise is critical for weight maintenance, however, too much of it may actually be a bad thing if you’re trying to father a child. Men who run 100+ miles per week may be lowering their testosterone levels and reducing their sperm counts. Additionally, those who bicycle frequently may be affecting their fertility. Talk to your doctor about an exercise program that is right for you to help control your weight.

A healthy diet is important for preventing obesity and losing weight. Research has also shown that several key nutrients, including zinc, selenium, carnitine, and vitamins B-12, C, and E are also helpful for preventing or treating male infertility. For more information on a healthy diet for male health, check out The Prostate Diet from

Environmental Factors

When discussing fertility issues with your doctor, be sure to tell him about any environmental toxins to which you are exposed. Pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins can reduce the production of sperm.


Site last updated 22 October, 2016



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