Male Infertility

About a third of all infertility cases are due to male fertility issues. These can range from low sperm count or sperm abnormalities to hormonal imbalances or problems related to the reproductive anatomy. Health and lifestyle factors such as stress, weight, and alcohol consumption can also play a role. The good news is that infertility treatment options are available.

Male Infertility

About a third of all infertility cases are due to male fertility issues. These can range from low sperm count or sperm abnormalities to hormonal imbalances or problems related to the reproductive anatomy. Health and lifestyle factors such as stress, weight, and alcohol consumption can also play a role. The good news is that infertility treatment options are available.

male infertility sperm count

Causes of Male Infertility

Some of the barriers faced by men trying to achieve pregnancy with their partner may include azoospermia (lack of sperm), varicocele (an enlargement of veins in the testicles), the presence or prevalence of anti-sperm antibodies, and abnormalities related to sperm count, sperm motility, or semen volume, consistency, or pH. Or there may be a need to undo the effects of a vasectomy.

Learn more below.

Causes of Male Infertility

male infertility sperm count

Some of the barriers faced by men trying to achieve pregnancy with their partner may include azoospermia, varicoele, anti-sperm antibodies, or a vasectomy.

Learn more below.

Non-obstructive azoospermia is when a man has no sperm in his semen because his body produces abnormal sperm. It’s a very common cause of male infertility. If a male partner has non-obstructive azoospermia, doctors will usually recommend a procedure called microsurgical testicular sperm extraction (microTESE) to determine:

  • If a man has an adequate level of testosterone in sperm test results.
  • If a man remains azoospermic even though he’s received treatment and his testosterone levels have been normal for at least four months

Doctors are able to find sperm approximately 70 percent of the time during microTESE procedures.

A varicocele is a dilation of a vein (like a varicose vein) in the scrotum. Many men with varicocele have a low sperm count or abnormal sperm morphology (shape). However, many men with varicoceles are fertile. The reason a varicocele affects sperm production and shape might be related to a higher-than-normal temperature in the testicles.

Varicocele can be treated surgically by cutting the veins connected to the varicocele. However, surgery does not always improve fertility and is not recommended for most men, unless there is a large varicocele that can be easily felt. A varicocele that has been present for a long time can cause irreversible damage that cannot be surgically treated.

An alternative to varicocele repair is Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). With ICSI, only a small number of sperm are needed.

The immune system produces antibodies to fight foreign substances in the body like infectious diseases and, at times, those antibodies find their way to the male reproductive system.

Anti-sperm antibodies aren’t common but both men and women can make them. When present, anti-sperm antibodies can make it harder for couples to have a baby. But it’s rare for antibodies by themselves to make it impossible to get pregnant.

Anti-sperm antibodies can be caused by several things. In men, an infection in their prostate or an injury to their testicles can set off an immune response when the sperm comes in contact with blood. This can also happen after a testicle surgery like a vasectomy. Women’s bodies can make anti-sperm antibodies if they have an allergic reaction to semen.

If a couple is having a hard time getting pregnant, their doctor may recommend fertility tests, including checking for anti-sperm antibodies. This is most commonly done with an immunobead test on sperm at the time of your semen analysis.


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