What causes male infertility

What causes male infertility?

There are many potential causes of male infertility. Some conditions may impact a man’s fertility in more than one way. A definitive cause for infertility will not be found in some men. Your doctor will work with you to try to find causes for fertility that are

  • Reversible
  • Treatable
  • A threat to your health
  • Or may impact the health of your child

Potential causes of infertility can be organized into pre-testicular, intratesticular, post-testicular, and extra testicular causes.

Pre testicular

Pre-testicular conditions effect the chemical signals that tell the testicle to make testosterone and/or make sperm. These signals come from a parts of the brain called the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Pretesticular causes of infertility include:

  • Hypothalamic disorders
  • Pituitary disorders
  • Brain tumors
  • Radiation or surgery on the brain
  • Exogenous testosterone/anabolic steroids

 

Extra testicular

Sometime the amount of sperm and/or the quality of the sperm can be effected by conditions unrelated to the reproductive organs or by exposures to certain substances or drugs. Extra-testicular causes of infertility include:

  • Severe illness
  • Heat (such as hot tubs or saunas)
  • Obesity
  • Medications
  • Cigarettes
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Recreational drugs (e.g marijuana)
Infographic of the male body

Post-testicular

Sperm is mixed with fluid from the prostate and seminal vesicles to form semen. The semen must make it into the vagina to reach the egg and cause a natural pregnancy. Conditions that block sperm from entering the semen, or prevent the semen from being ejaculated into the vagina can cause infertility. Post-testicular causes of infertility include:

Testicular

Damage to, or poor function of, the testicle can affect how well the testicles can make sperm. Testicular causes of infertility include:

  • Torsion of the testicle
  •  Undescended testicle
  • Genetic disorders
  • Primary testicular failure
  • Scrotal trauma
  • Varicocele
  • Epididymitis/infection
  • Cancer treatments (such as radiation or chemotherapy)