Male Infertility: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

May 2, 2024
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Infertility can seem like a wild goose chase for that one golden egg - or sperm.

It's not often that you think about a man's fertility. Why would you, when he plays a teeny-tiny supporting role in the journey to conception? Yet, the reality is, those five minutes are just as potent as the days and weeks that follow and can be enough to determine a pregnancy outcome.

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If you've been having trouble on your way to conception, consider having your and your partner's fertility profiles evaluated. Until then, allow us to acquaint you with the enigma that is male infertility, and its causes, symptoms and treatments.

Understanding Male Infertility

Male infertility refers to the inability of a couple to conceive or maintain a pregnancy for a period of at least one year - if the female partner is below 35 - and six months - if above 35, due to problems with the male partner. It is estimated that up to 50% of infertility cases are caused by male factors. Male infertility can be categorised into three broad buckets: poor sperm quality, low sperm count, and physiological blockages. With regard to sperm quantity, men with a sperm count lower than 15 million per millilitre of semen, or lower than 39 million per ejaculation, are considered subfertile. Infertility can be triggered by injuries, chronic health conditions, prior illnesses, poor lifestyle, among other factors.

Causes of Male Infertility / Subfertility

The causes behind male infertility could be rooted in various factors. Some of these are highlighted below:

  • Medical disorders: Health problems and medical treatments could play a role in affecting the male reproductive mechanism. Varicocele,  inflammation of the epididymis or testicles, sexually transmitted diseases, tumours, autoimmune diseases, testicular blockages, hormonal imbalances and chromosomal defects in the male partner, are just some of the medical factors that could lead to male infertility
  • External factors: The environment holds many influences like toxins, heavy metals, radiation, pollutants and chemicals, that can be harmful to sperm
  • Lifestyle factors: Stress, alcohol, tobacco, drugs and obesity can wreak havoc on sperm function

Symptoms of  Male Infertility / Subfertility

Male infertility doesn't come with a disclaimer, and in most cases, there's no real way of tracing it from any outward symptoms. A small proportion of men do exhibit symptoms from an underlying condition, which could be a trigger for infertility. These include:

  • Difficulty with ejaculation
  • Reduced libido
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Inflammation around the testicles
  • Respiratory problems
  • Enlargement of breasts
  • Diminished facial or body hair

Treatment of Male Infertility

Male infertility is usually diagnosed through a quality semen analysis. There is no blanket treatment course for the condition; rather, treatment plans are tailored in tune with a man's medical profile and history, age and other important factors. Treatment measures could be used in isolation, or in conjunction.


Medical Management

In most cases, infections, hormonal disorders and erectile dysfunction can be addressed through medication. Antibiotics are preferred in treating infections, whereas hormonal disorders typically require hormone replacement therapy.

Surgical Management

Surgery may be advisable for conditions like varicocele and obstructed vas deferens, and cases of prior vasectomies.

Assisted Reproductive Technologies

For men who need fertility intervention, assisted reproductive technologies (ART) can be golden by in vitro fertilisation or intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

Coping With Male Infertility

Male infertility can be hard on a couple, especially on the man, who may feel burdened by a sense of guilt. During this time, it is important to remind yourself that infertility is nobody's fault, and with effective treatment, it is more than likely that you will overcome the condition. Open your heart to your partner if you feel daunted or discouraged, and possibly speak to a professional counsellor. You may find it heartening to join an online support group, to hear success stories of other men who have beaten infertility.

On Cloudnine, our world-renowned fertility specialists and innovative technologies have earned plaudits for their significant success rates. If you've been struggling to conceive, explore a tailored treatment plan with us. Experience heartfelt care and result-oriented outcomes with fertility solutions on Cloudnine.