Infertility is a medical condition of the male and female reproductive system that is characterized by the inability to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. Infertility plagues millions of people worldwide with negative impacts on family dynamics and society at large. Infertility is a complex disease condition that can be traced to various causes and complications of which 50% is attributed to the male factor. Male infertility can be associated with various causes, which include; low or no sperm count, erectile dysfunction, abnormal sperm, weakened sperm motility, blockage of the urethra for passage of semen, chronic illnesses, lifestyle choices, and other contributing factors. The goal of treatment of infertility is to identify the various underlying conditions in order to restore viable sperm production and motility during ejaculation.
The male reproductive system comprises the testicles and other structures that help in the production, storage, and mobilization of sperm with help from the primary sex hormone known as testosterone. Therefore, any factor that affects the release of testosterone, the testicles, and other parts of the male reproductive organs could result in infertility.
There are various signs and symptoms of male infertility. This is a result of the varying possible causes of this disease. However, the main sign is the inability to conceive or impregnate a woman over a period of 12 months. The various signs and symptoms include:
- Difficulty in maintaining an adequate erection
- Low sperm count (less than 15 million sperm per millimeter or a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculation)
- Weak ejaculation
- Abnormal breast growth (gynecomastia)
- Pain, swollen or lump in the testicular region
It is advisable to see your doctor immediately if you notice the various symptoms listed above for prompt intervention and treatment.
There are a ton of possible causes of male infertility with varying levels of severity. The causes range from medical to environmental, and lifestyle changes. For the sake of understanding, I’ll list a few of the possible causes of male infertility below. They include:
- Recurrent STIs (sexually transmitted infections) including gonorrhea and HIV
- Hormonal imbalances and erectile dysfunction
- Tumors and/or previous surgical procedures
- Exposure to radiation and overheating of the testicles
- Drug, alcohol, and tobacco smoking
Having highlighted the various possible causes of infertility in men, we can reduce its occurrence to a large extent through healthy lifestyle choices and modifications, which include smoking and alcohol cessation.
There is often a high level of emotional stress and unmet expectations related to the inability to have a child. Most couples experience bouts of depression and resentment which could affect their relationship with one another. Not to mention the financial burden of having to resolve possible alternatives for conception, such as IVF (in-vitro fertilization). These are a few possible complications of male infertility.
Although you cannot completely eliminate the risk of developing male infertility, as there are multiple causative factors, however, you can lower the chances through lifestyle changes by adhering to the following; don’t smoke, reduce alcohol intake, avoid illicit drug use, maintain ideal body weight, manage stress, and reduce exposure to heavy metals and radiation.