Our society is quick at blaming women when they remain married for a year or two without achieving any pregnancy. Such women are regarded as “barren” and they severely bear the brunts of marital childlessness – but hardly would anyone want to hear that the problem could be with the man – the husbands.
Male infertility or the inability to get your partner pregnant can be caused by medical, environmental, and lifestyle factors, or a combination of all factors:
- Varicocele: This is a swelling of the veins that drain the testicles. It causes the testicles to heat up, killing the sperms with unnecessary temperature. The testicles are hanging outside the body because sperms cannot survive the body temperature – and so varicocele prevents the natural cooling of the testicles for good sperm production. This condition is reversible through minor surgeries.
- Infections: Certain sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and syphilis among others could harm quality sperms and render them useless. Inflammation of the testicles as a result of mumps, and inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis) can also harm the production of quality sperms in the testicles. Genital infections that cause varicose veins to grow within the scrotum are also pretty bad. Some of these infections can cause permanent damage in the testicles, and they can also cause scarring or blockage of sperm ducts.
- Retrograde ejaculations: This occurs when semen fails to ejaculate through the penis, but ejaculate backwards into the bladder during orgasm. This condition can occur as a result of contrary medications, spinal injuries, diabetes, urethra/prostate/bladder surgeries. In this case, the man still produces sperms but they get ejaculated back into the bladder instead of coming out through the penis.
- Antibodies attacks: Antibodies are natural body agents or soldiers that fight infections and any foreign invasions. However, some antibodies are guilty of being anti-sperm – they mistaken sperms as harmful to the body and either eliminate them or kill off their life-giving properties. Antibodies work to protect the body system and make it immune to harmful invasions or microbe infections.
- Tumor treatments: Tumors are body tissue growths that serve no purpose other than just swell to disfigure the body or impede the activity of other organs. They are either malignant or non-malignant. Cancerous tumors in the brain can affect the release of hormones necessary for sperm production. But much more than this, the use of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgeries to treat tumors directly affects male fertility.
- Undescended testicles: When one or both testicles fail to descend into the scrotal sac but remain undescended in the body, then it leads to male infertility. Although it is congenital or occurs during fetal development, it is reversible through surgeries, but the man may still suffer from infertility in later life.
- Hormone imbalances: Hormones are body chemicals that regulate the functions of many body organs. Testosterone is a male sex hormone and produced by the testicles; but any hormonal imbalance from the pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands can affect it in some way and impact on sperm production and health.
- Blockage of sperm ducts: Defects or blockage of sperm ducts makes it impossible for sperms to be released or be available in the semen. Injury, illness, and cystic fibrosis among others could cause a blockage in the tubes that transport sperms out of the testicles – making it impossible to impregnate a woman.
- Erectile dysfunctions: This is described as the inability to achieve or maintain penile erection sufficient enough to enjoy satisfactory sex. This can include impotence, premature ejaculation, painful intercourse, and others. This could be caused by medical and psychological factors, and the side-effects of certain drugs/medications, and alcohol.
- Others: Celiac disease or the inability of the digestive system to process gluten – a kind of cereal protein; anabolic steroids; testosterone replacement therapy; anti-fungal drugs; cancer medications and treatment procedures; chromosome defects as can be seen in Klinefelter’s syndrome, Kallmann’s syndrome, Kartagener syndrome, and cystic fibrosis; physical accidents that cause physical trauma to the genitals or groin area; prior surgeries that had to do with vasectomy, testicular/scrotal repairs, inguinal hernia repairs, as well as those for prostate and rectal cancers among others cause male infertility.
Environmental Causes of Male Infertility
- Exposure to industrial chemicals: Extended exposure to industrial chemicals like paints, organic solvents, lead, benzenes, toluene, toxins, herbicides, xylene, and pesticides may affect sperm production and quality.
- Heavy metal: Prolonged exposure to mercury and lead among other heavy metals is bad for the man in terms of general health and sperm production.
- Exposure to medical radiations: X-rays and chemotherapy and other radiation procedures used for treating cancers or other diseases are not good for the sperm or the testicles either.
- Saunas and hot tubs: Steam baths in saunas and hot tubs heat up the testicles and lower sperm counts and quality. Tight underwear also causes overheating of the testicles, and long stretches of time before the computer increases temperature to your scrotum, affecting sperm quality.
Lifestyle Causes of Male Infertility
- Use of illegal drugs: The use of anabolic steroids to boost muscle growth and strength can shrink the testicles and affect sperm production. Illicit substances like cocaine, crystal meths, marijuana, and tobacco among others can affect sperm count and quality. Psychiatric and cancer medications among other prescription drugs are also known to lower sperm counts.
- Excessive alcohols: Excessive alcohol is bad for sperm production because it causes erectile dysfunctions and lowers testosterone levels; and it can also damage the liver, causing liver diseases.
- Psychological stresses: Emotional problems and psychological stressors can interfere with your ability to perform as well as affect hormone levels, thereby causing fertility problems.
- Others: Obesity, sedentary occupations, and prolonged exercises like bicycling can affect the natural ability of the testicles to perform in terms of hormone release and quality sperm production.
You might need immediate medical interventions that can range from evaluations, tests, surgery, and non-invasive therapies like supplements/alternative herbal remedies and prescription medications to deal with the challenges of male infertility, and it is always best to consult a fertility specialist if you experience any of these factors and desire to impregnate your partner in record time.