What causes infertility in men?

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Infertility in men has many causes and contributing factors. It is typically evaluated by a semen test. A specialist will take a sample and evaluate the number of sperms, their shape and even how they move!. A slightly abnormal semen analysis does not mean that a man is necessarily infertile. Instead, a semen analysis helps determine if and how male factors are contributing to infertility and helps to predict the correct treatment.

Conditions that can contribute to abnormal semen analyses include –

  • Varicoceles, a condition in which the veins on a man’s testicles are large and cause them to overheat. The heat may affect the number or shape of the sperm.
  • Medical conditions or exposures such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, trauma, infection, testicular failure, or treatment with chemotherapy or radiation.
  • Unhealthy habits such as heavy alcohol use, testosterone supplementation, smoking, anabolic steroid use, and illicit drug use.
  • Environmental toxins including exposure to pesticides and lead.

What are some of the specific treatments for male infertility?

Male infertility may be treated with medical, surgical, or assisted reproductive therapies depending on the underlying cause. Medical and surgical therapies are usually managed by an urologist who specializes in infertility. A reproductive endocrinologist may offer intrauterine inseminations (IUIs) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) to help overcome male factor infertility.