When people think of infertility, they tend to imagine a woman longing for a child but unable to conceive. In reality, men and women are equally likely to have medical issues that cause infertility… and it often seems to be harder for men to talk about the subject. But once a couple decides to consult a fertility doctor, it is important to be open, share information and ask questions. It is also important to be informed.

Male infertility can have many causes, including:

Low Sperm Count: Just like it sounds, this refers to simply not producing enough sperm to have good odds of conceiving. Low sperm count is the most common male fertility problem and it can be caused by a hormone imbalance, an injury to the testes, radiation or chemotherapy, smoking cigarettes or marijuana, some prescription medication, and other causes. The easiest to correct is when the testicles become too warm, which reduces sperm count. Causes for this include frequent sauna use, long bike rides and even snug briefs. Poor Sperm Motility: Motility refers to how well the individual sperm can move. If they are unable to travel the distance to reach an egg, obviously the egg will not be fertilized. This is sometimes caused by a problem with the shape of the sperm. In some assisted reproduction treatments, the sperm will be prepared before use and only the strongest, fastest sperm will be used. Structural Problems: Some males are born with structural problems that prevent sperm from leaving the testicles, and sometimes injury can cause this problem. The sperm are literally blocked. It is sometimes possible to correct the problem with surgery. Retrograde Ejaculation: This condition causes semen to leak into the bladder instead of going through the penis. It is often a complication of diabetes, although it has other causes too. The good news is that this is an easily treated condition.

Many other factors can affect male fertility. Obesity can be the root of infertility, and so can excessive exercising, which causes the body to produce steroids. Likewise, steroid use can cause male infertility. Infertility is one of many health problems posed by exposure to hazardous chemicals or environmental toxins. Sexually transmitted diseases are another possible problem. Even poor nutrition or stress help hurt a man’s chances of fathering a child without medical assistance.

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When a couple goes to see a fertility doctor, one of first things that will happen is a sperm analysis to help determine the exact nature of the problem. The analysis should happen right away when the man provides a sample. The sample will be checked to see if the number and quality of sperm are healthy. Sometimes they are, in which cases a second sample may be required. Two samples without problems usually indicate the man is fertile.

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