Male infertility is a condition where men cannot produce adequate sperm even with unprotected and regular sexual intercourse. In fact, research shows that 13 out of 100 couples cannot conceive even after having unprotected sex. This condition generally affects both male and female partners. Typically, one-third of all infertility cases happen because of the male patient.
Moreover, in many cases, the male partner and female partners are equally responsible for reduced infertility. Thus, consulting with a doctor is necessary.
When is infertility diagnosed?
Typically, doctors and couples suspect this condition after a year or more of regular but unprotected intercourse.
Common causes of infertility among men
Many factors contribute to the growth of healthy and mature sperms. However, there are multiple issues that male patients face that stop the steady movement of sperm to the female’s egg. For example, the temperature in the scrotum or growth in the sperms can create infertile eggs. The commonly diagnosed male infertility causes include the following.
- Sperm disorders
- Immunologic infertility
- Retrograde ejaculation
The most common sign of infertility in male patients is their inability to conceive children. For most patients, other male infertility symptoms are not visible. However, doctors can notice particular signs in some patients through testing. Indeed, this is possible if the underlying cause is either hormonal imbalance, inherited diseases, obstructive conditions, or dilated veins surrounding the testicle.
In this context, the male infertility symptoms include:
- Problem in smelling
- Continuous respiratory infections
- Issues in sexual functions. Common male infertility symptoms here include lowered sexual desire, little amount of fluid during ejaculation, no ejaculation, or erectile dysfunction.
- A swelling, lump, or increased feeling of pain in the testicles
- Abnormality in the hormonal or chromosomal effects cause reduced body hair or facial hair
- Gynecomastia or irregular growth in the breast area
- Low sperm count. Male infertility patients may have a total sperm count that is less than 39 million in each ejaculation. Or, they ejaculate lower than 15 million sperm in each ml of semen.
Causes related to lifestyle and health
Particular male infertility causes are related to lifestyle-based factors. These include:
- Alcohol usage- Men can have a low level of testosterone after drinking alcohol. Also, patients can notice conditions like low sperm production and erectile dysfunction. Moreover, overconsumption of alcohol can reduce liver health which affects fertility in males.
- Drug uses- Many men use particular drugs like anabolic steroids to enhance muscle growth and strength. This results in shrinkage of the testicles and lowered sperm production. Also, the usage of marijuana and cocaine can cause a temporary fall in sperm count and quality.
- Tobacco– Regular smokers of tobacco products have less sperm count in comparison to non-smokers. Additionally, secondhand smoke inhalation can also affect infertility among men.
- Obesity- Weight gain can result in hormonal changes among men. As a result, the sperm count and quality can decrease. Thus, infertility among these men is possible.
Environmental causes of male infertility
Male patients can notice reduced sperm function and production due to exposure to particular environmental components like toxins, heat, or chemicals. To note, experts detail specific male fertility causes.
- Exposure to heavy metal- Infertility among men is possible due to continued exposure to heavy metals like lead.
- Industrial chemicals- Men who get exposed to particular chemicals for a long time notice a reduced number of sperms. These include organic solvents, herbicides, pesticides, painting materials, and organic solvents.
- X-rays or radiation- People who get long-term exposure to radiation can see a permanent loss of sperm production. However, limited or sporadic exposure can cause a reduction, but it soon gets back to normal.
- Temperature changes in the testicles- Some studies show that an increase in temperature at the testicles can affect the function and production of sperms. Usually, this happens when men use hot tubs or sauna. However, this data is inconclusive.
- Long-term sitting- Staying in one position for a long stretch or wearing tighter clothing can affect a temperature increase in the scrotum. As a result, the sperm production of the male infertility patient is much lower. However, the research for this is not conclusive.
Do health problems cause male infertility?
Research shows that multiple health issues can cause infertility in male patients. Studies show that 20-30% of infertility cases happen due to male-oriented sexual issues. Overall, common health conditions here include testicular cancer or kidney diseases. Moreover, sexually transmitted diseases can result in scars or a blockage in the male reproductive tract. This affects the fertility rate of the patient.
Also, particular metabolic disorders, infections, and even regular fever can negatively influence the growth rate of sperms. Genetic health issues like cystic fibrosis can result in the absence of seminal vesicles or vas deferens. Therefore, doctors notice a lack of sperm in the semen of male infertility patients.
How to prevent male infertility?
Male infertility is influenced by several factors like environmental, lifestyle, medical, etc. In most cases, it is not always preventable, but there are some ways you can prevent infertility. These ways include avoiding common causes of infertility by making some lifestyle changes like:
- Avoid drugs.
- Avoid smoking.
- Maintain weight.
- Limit or stop alcohol consumption.
- Avoid a vasectomy.
- Avoid things that generate heat around testicles.
- Stay stress-free.
All such lifestyle changes are directly related to your health and indirectly to your fertility. Daily positive changes can be good for your health as well as your fertility.
Foods to Boost Male Fertility
Your diet affects your overall health including sperm health. The food choices that you make have a huge impact on fertility and its elements. While some foods are bad, other foods may help boost your fertility. Some of these food items include:
- Fatty Fish: Various studies have shown a relationship between higher fish consumption and better sperm motility. The presence of omega-3 fatty acids has been found beneficial for men.
- Fruits and vegetables: In various studies, it was found out that men who ate fresh fruits and green vegetables had good sperm count and mobility as compared to men who didn’t eat the same much. Such plant-based foods are high in vitamin C, co-enzyme Q10, and lycopene, which are good for sperm health.
- Nuts: A few studies showed that men who ate nuts, like walnuts, have improved sperm health and vitality. Nuts are rich in vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and selenium which are good for fertility.
- Bell Peppers: Bell peppers have a good concentration of vitamin A and C that somehow protects the sperm from oxidative damage. Also, vitamin C is good for overall sperm health including, sperm count and mobility.
- Pomegranate juice: It is high in antioxidants that have shown improved sperm health in infertile men.
Apart from these five, other food items may help you boost your fertility. However, don’t forget to avoid some foods like junk food. high-mercury fish, alcohol, caffeinated drinks, high-fat dairy, etc.
Can male infertility be treated?
There are particular treatment plans available for male infertility cases. Overall, there are three categories of treatment plans.
- Surgical Therapy– E.g., Vasoepididymostomy, Microsurgical Vasovasostomy, varicocele treatments.
- Non-Surgical Therapy- E.g, Rectal probe electroejaculation, Penile vibratory stimulation, medications.
- Treatment plans for unknown causes– E.g., In Vitro Fertilization, Intrauterine insemination, ART Sperm Retrieval.
Overall, male infertility is a common cause for lack of conception among couples. It is best to consult a doctor as soon as possible in case one notices any abnormal signs or conception issues despite regular unprotected intercourse.