Infertility is defined as a couple being unable to become pregnant after having regular, unprotected sexual intercourse for a year. Male infertility means that the problem lies with the man's reproductive system. Infertility affects men and women equally – about half of infertility problems are caused by male infertility.
The sign of male infertility is a couple's inability to become pregnant after having regular, unprotected sexual intercourse for a year.
Male infertility is caused by problems in a man's reproductive system. Such problems can include:
- A man's body producing too few sperm, or no sperm at all. This can be caused by exposure to toxins or radiation; genetic problems; a severe mumps infection as a teenager or as an adult; or alcohol or drug abuse.
- Defective sperm that die before the woman's egg can be fertilized, or that can't swim properly. This can be caused by hormone problems related to a tumor in the pituitary gland, by a venereal disease, by inflammation of the testicles, among other causes.
- Erectile dysfunction, where a man can't maintain an erection
- Ejaculation problems, where a man has trouble delivering the sperm to the woman's vagina. This includes premature ejaculation.
- A natural decline in fertility, caused by aging
If a couple is having trouble becoming pregnant, the man is usually referred to an urologist. In addition to a physical exam, this doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests:
- Semen analysis to check the health of the man's sperm
- Blood tests to check for infections and/or hormone imbalances
- A MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan of the pituitary gland, to make sure the problems aren't being caused by a growth or a tumor on the gland
- Ultrasound of the reproductive organs to check for anything that might block the normal flow of semen during intercourse
Sometimes, a man's fertility can be restored by avoiding long, hot baths and wearing boxer shorts instead of tighter underwear. In other cases, a doctor will recommend medication to treat a hormone imbalance, to stimulate sperm production, to clear up an infection, and to possibly destroy a pituitary tumor.
Surgery is used to fix problems in the testicles, and to remove a pituitary tumor.
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