There seems to be a misconception that infertility is always the result of a problem with the woman and her reproductive system. In reality, 1/3 of fertility struggles can be attributed to the woman, 1/3 can be attributed to the male, and the other 1/3 is attributed to a combination of problems in both the male and female or is unexplained.
Back to Basics: What is Infertility?
A person is considered to be infertile if they have been trying for at least a year to conceive without success. In many cases, there are no symptoms of male infertility. Intercourse, ejaculation, and erections can still be present, but infertility can be affecting the male. However, some symptoms may include decreased sexual function, pain, swelling, or lumps in the testicles, or decreased facial/body hair growth.
Diagnosing male infertility is typically noninvasive. It can be diagnosed with a general health exam which involves a physical exam completed by a doctor, an analysis of your health history, discussion about your sexual habits, and a semen analysis. This will give your doctor a better understanding of your current health situation and what route should be taken from there.
A semen analysis is the most common male fertility test. The male provides a semen sample by ejaculating into a special container in a doctor’s office or by ejaculating into a special condom during intercourse. The sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis of the number of sperm, the mobility of the sperm, and the overall condition of the sperm. This analysis will tell the doctor a lot about the condition of the male’s sperm and can help direct the next steps to restoring sperm.
Causes of Male Infertility
There are a few possible causes of male fertility - Some are reversible, and some are not.
Sometimes, the cause of male infertility all comes down to daily choices being made. Some of these risk factors are:
- Smoking cigarettes or marijuana
- Drinking alcohol excessively
- Being overweight
- Overheating the testicles
Making healthy choices in your life, can help increase your chances of conceiving. Choosing to eat healthy and exercise for the recommended amount of time can result in you losing weight and increasing your chances of fertility.
It’s also important to avoid overheating the testicles. The testicles require a slightly lower temperature than the rest of the body to maintain sperm. Tight clothing that pulls the testes too close to the body can increase this temperature and impact the health of the sperm. Opt instead for loose fitting underwear and pants to avoid increasing the temperature of the testicles.
Some past illnesses or infections can create blockage within the reproductive system that prevent sperm from being released. With any kind of obstruction that prevents sperm from leaving the body, infertility is a possibility.
Hormones play a huge role in conception and the reproductive system as a whole. If there is a hormone imbalance present, it can prevent conception from taking place. Abnormalities with the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, thyroid, and adrenal gland can cause trouble with fertility.
Just because a couple is struggling to conceive doesn’t mean that the problem lies with the female. It’s important to understand the symptoms and causes of male infertility to be able to diagnose it.
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