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Male Infertility: What Are the Causes?



Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of regular, unprotected sex. If a couple does not use birth control and has sex frequently, but still cannot get pregnant, then they may be experiencing infertility.

What Causes Male Infertility?

There are many different causes of male infertility, and often multiple factors contribute to the problem. In about 40%  of infertile couples, the male partner is solely responsible for infertility. In another 30-40% of cases, male infertility plays a role, but other factors are also present. The remaining 10-20% of infertile couples have unexplained fertility – meaning that no cause can be identified.


The most common cause of infertility in men is a condition called varicocele. A varicocele is a dilated or enlarged vein in the scrotum that can cause the testicles to overheat. This can damage or kill sperm cells. Varicoceles are present in about 15% of all men and are more common in infertile men than fertile men.

Other Causes of Male Infertility

Other potential causes of male infertility include:

Hormone imbalances – Low levels of testosterone or other hormones can impact sperm production.

Infections – Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, can damage the reproductive tract and lead to infertility. Other infections, such as mumps, can affect the testicles and also cause infertility.

Medical conditions – Various medical conditions, such as diabetes, celiac disease, kidney disease, and an undescended testicle can contribute to male infertility.

Genetic disorders – Inherited conditions, such as Klinefelter syndrome or cystic fibrosis, can lead to fertility problems.

Lifestyle choices – Poor lifestyle choices, such as smoking, heavy alcohol use, and drug abuse, can damage the reproductive system and lead to fertility problems.

Testicular trauma – Trauma to the testicles can cause fertility problems.

Cancer treatment – Cancer treatment, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy, can damage the reproductive system and lead to fertility problems.

There are many different causes of male infertility, and often multiple factors contribute to the problem.

How To Improve Male Fertility?

If you’re a man who is having trouble conceiving, there are things you can do to improve your fertility.

See a doctor – If you’re having difficulty conceiving, it’s important to see a doctor. They can help you determine if there is a problem and, if so, what the cause may be.

Get tested – If you’re having difficulty conceiving, it’s important to get tested in fertility clinics. Your doctor can order tests to check your hormone levels, sperm count, and semen quality.

Make lifestyle changes – If you smoke, abuse drugs, or drink alcohol excessively, these habits can impact your fertility. Quit smoking, and cut back on alcohol and drugs. Make good lifestyle changes.

You should also eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. To find out what the best foods are for male infertility check out this article by Dr Deborah Brunt, a holistic lifestyle GP, who specializes in integrative medication.

Consider treatment – If you have a treatable condition, such as varicocele or infection, treatment can help improve your fertility.

Use assisted reproductive technologies (ART) – If other treatments haven’t worked, you may want to consider ART. This includes in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI).

Adopt – If you’re unable to have a child of your own, adoption may be an option for you.

Male infertility is a common problem, and there are many different causes. If you’re having difficulty conceiving, see a doctor to find out if there is a problem and, if so, what the cause may be.

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