In marriages, relationships, not being able to conceive a child can be very frustrating. Male infertility refers to a male’s inability to cause pregnancy in a fertile female. In humans it accounts for 40-50% of infertility. It affects approximately 7% of all men. It is commonly due to low sperm production, abnormal sperm function or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm. Some other factors that range from health problems, environment, and lifestyle choices can also cause male infertility. Some of these include:
1. Problems with sexual intercourse:
These can include trouble keeping or maintaining an erection sufficient for sex (erectile dysfunction), premature ejaculation, painful intercourse, anatomical abnormalities such as having a urethral opening beneath the penis (hypospadias), or psychological or relationship problems that interfere with sex.
2. Prior surgeries:
Certain surgeries may prevent you from having sperm in your ejaculate, including vasectomy, inguinal hernia repairs, scrotal or testicular surgeries, prostate surgeries, and large abdominal surgeries performed for testicular and rectal cancers, among others. In most cases, surgery can be performed to either reverse these blockage or to retrieve sperm directly from the epididymis and testicles.
Overexposure to certain environmental elements such as heat, toxins and chemicals can reduce sperm production or sperm function. Specific causes include:
3. Industrial chemicals: Extended exposure to benzenes, toluene, xylene, pesticides, herbicides, organic solvents, painting materials and lead may contribute to low sperm counts.
4. Heavy metal exposure: Exposure to lead or other heavy metals also may cause infertility.
5. Radiation or X-rays: Exposure to radiation can reduce sperm production, though it will often eventually return to normal. With high doses of radiation, sperm production can be permanently reduced.
6. Overheating the testicles. Elevated temperatures impair sperm production and function. Although studies are limited and are inconclusive, frequent use of saunas or hot tubs may temporarily impair your sperm count.
Sitting for long periods, wearing tight clothing or working on a laptop computer for long stretches of time also may increase the temperature in your scrotum and may slightly reduce sperm production.
Health, lifestyle and other causes:
7. Illicit drug use: Anabolic steroids taken to stimulate muscle strength and growth can cause the testicles to shrink and sperm production to decrease. Use of cocaine or marijuana may temporarily reduce the number and quality of your sperm as well.
8. Alcohol use: Drinking alcohol can lower testosterone levels, cause erectile dysfunction and decrease sperm production. Liver disease caused by excessive drinking also may lead to fertility problems.
9. Tobacco smoking: Men who smoke may have a lower sperm count than do those who don’t smoke. Secondhand smoke also may affect male fertility.
10. Emotional stress: Stress can interfere with certain hormones needed to produce sperm. Severe or prolonged emotional stress, including problems with fertility, can affect your sperm count.
11. Weight: Obesity can impair fertility in several ways, including directly impacting sperm themselves as well as by causing hormone changes that reduce male fertility.
Source: Nigerian Bulletin