Infertility is not just a woman’s problem. About half the time, infertility problems involve the man, and 20-to-30 percent of the time the main obstacle to conception is a man’s low fertility, according to WebMD. If you are trying to have a baby and are having difficulties, you and your partner should get a fertility test. The earlier treatment begins if it is necessary, the better off you both will be.
Male fertility is complex, according to MayoClinic.com. Your partner must have healthy sperm and enough of it to get you pregnant. For a man to have a healthy quantity and quality of sperm, his body must produce enough testosterone. The man’s testicles produce the sperm. Then, tubes transport the sperm so that they can mix with semen for the penis to ejaculate. A low sperm count–fewer than 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen–decreases the chances of a woman becoming pregnant. Also, if the sperm is not the correct shape, the sperm may not be able to reach the egg.
Medical Causes for Fertility Problems
Many medical causes are responsible for creating a problem with a man’s fertility. Varicocele is a swelling of veins that can prevent normal cooling of the testicle, which can lead to a lower sperm count. Some sexually transmitted diseases and can interfere with sperm production. Urinary tract infections can as well. Retrograde ejaculation, which can occur with diabetes, multiple sclerosis or spinal injuries, prevents semen from emerging from the penis. Tumors can affect male reproductive organs. Other medical problems men could have that affect fertility are undescended testicles, hormone imbalances, sperm duct defects, chromosome defects, sexual problems and celiac disease, which is sensitivity to gluten. Long-term steroid use, chemotherapy and certain antibiotics can also impair sperm.
Environmental Causes for Fertility Problems
Environmental causes could impair sperm. Certain pesticides can lower sperm counts or can cause testicular cancer. Exposure to lead, heavy metals and high doses of radiation can reduce sperm. Overheating the testicles can also reduce sperm. Men should avoid frequent use of hot tubs, wearing tight underwear or keeping a laptop on their lap. Prolonged bicycling can possibly overheat the testicles, too.
Lifestyle choices can affect sperm. Cocaine, marijuana and steroids can decrease sperm as can alcohol abuse. Smoking and second-hand smoke can affect fertility. Stress interferes with the hormones needed to produce sperm, according to MayoClinic.com. If a man doesn’t get enough vitamin C, selenium, zinc and folate, he could have fertility problems. A man should be the right weight and not be obese or underweight. Age is a factor for male fertility; men older than 35 are less fertile.
Men can go in to see a urologist or a fertility specialist for an exam to determine if they have a fertility problem. The doctor will examine the scrotum and the testes, take a urine sample and analyze his semen, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The semen analysis will be able to tell you how much sperm your partner produces, the concentration of sperm per milliliter of semen, the total sperm count, the percentage of moving sperm and the shape of the sperm.
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