3 Common Causes of Male Infertility

When a couple struggles to conceive a child, it may be due to an undiagnosed health issue with either the female or male partner. There are several causes of male infertility, but men are often reported as being reluctant to investigate the possibility that they have a reproductive health problem. Understandably, it can be a difficult and emotive subject to talk about, but many of the common causes of male infertility are treatable. Read on to learn about three common causes of male infertility and how they are treated.

1. Varicocele

A varicocele is an area of swelling on one of the veins that play a role in the draining of your testicles. When one of these veins becomes swollen it can lead to abnormal blood circulation, which can reduce sperm quality and quantity. A varicocele can be treated with a simple surgical procedure to tie off the affected vein and redirect blood flow through the surrounding healthy veins. After this procedure, your sperm will be analysed and the quality should improve within a couple of months.

2. Infection

There are some bacterial infections and sexually transmitted infections that don't always cause symptoms. However, these infections, such as orchitis and gonorrhoea, can interfere with sperm health and production. Inflammation caused by certain infections can block the passage of sperm and cause scarring along the epididymis, which is the tube that transports sperm from the testicles.

Many infections can be treated with a course of antibiotics, which will quickly reduce inflammation and allow sperm health to be restored. When significant scarring is present, it may be necessary to try conceiving through assisted reproduction, such as IVF. Your doctor will carry out a surgical sperm retrieval, which involves collecting sperm from the testicles through a small incision in the scrotum. The sperm can then be used to fertilise your partner's retrieved eggs as part of the IVF process.  

3. Hormone Imbalance

Some men experience infertility due to a hormonal imbalance. When this occurs, you may have no symptoms indicating your hormone are out of balance, or you may have symptoms that you did not realise were related to your hormones. For example, you may experience fatigue or low mood and put these symptoms down to being busy at work when they are actually symptoms of low testosterone. Some hormones can decrease as you age, but there can be underlying health conditions that cause a hormone imbalance, such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism and Cushing syndrome. A hormone imbalance can be treated with synthetic hormones, and your doctor will also carry out a range of diagnostic tests to determine whether you have an underlying health condition that requires treatment.

If you've been trying to conceive and have concerns about your reproductive health, seek support from your doctor. They'll offer more insight into men's health.