What Are The Most Common Fertility Problems in Men?
Fifty percent of fertility problems that couples experience are cause by a problem with male fertility. There are several things that can cause fertility problems in men. Some of the most common can include low sperm motility, low sperm count, abnormal sperm, sperm allergies, and varicocele.
If sperm do not move forward and at a reasonable rate, conception is much less likely to occur. This is referred to as low sperm motility. Low sperm mobility can be caused by hormonal changes, medications, drug use, alcohol use, excessive caffeine, smoking, and testicular injury. In addition, sperm motility can be affected by temperature. If the temperature of the testicles is too high, sperm motility is reduced. This can be caused by hot tubs, saunas, heated waterbeds, or even the wearing of tight underwear and tight pants.
If a man’s semen does not contain a sufficient number of sperm, he has a low sperm count. Low sperm count can be caused by many of the same things that can cause low sperm motility: hormonal changes, medications, drug use, alcohol use, excessive caffeine, smoking, testicular injury, and testicular overheating are all risk factors.
Having a high number of sperm that are not shaped correctly can affect fertility. In addition to the above causes, exposure to chemicals and heavy metals can cause abnormal sperm.
There have been documented cases of sexually active men and women that can develop “sperm antibodies” that can impair sperm functions. This is often called a sperm “allergy”. In these instances, the solution is almost always assisted reproduction such as IVF or IUI.
When the vein that supplies the testicle is enlarged, it is known as varicocele. A varicocele can cause the testicles to be warmer than usually, affecting sperm count and motility. A varicocele can generally be corrected through urological surgery.
If you are having trouble trying to conceive, it is important for the man to provide the physician a complete health history, particularly including use of medications, drugs, alcohol, caffeine, cigarette smoking and exposure to chemicals or heavy metals. Your physician can then determine the best treatment. Treatment can include:
- Lifestyle changes, such as decrease in smoking, alcohol, caffeine, drugs, there is no medical or drug treatment that is currently effective for the treatment of low sperm count, low motility or abnormal sperm.
- Occasionally a physician will try hormone treatment, such as clomiphene citrate (Clomid or Serophene). Clomid is a fertility medication used in females, and a limited amount of research suggests that it can positively affect sperm count or motility. Use of this medication for male infertility is controversial.
- Other reproduction assistance, such as IVF, IUI, or ICSI.