A 27 January 2014 Indian Express article ‘Female & Male Infertility Just Keeps on Rising’ stated that around 15% of the Indian population, both male and female, are infertile. Statistics reveal that the percentage of male infertility has increased to 60 per cent now against 40 per cent in 1980s.
Environmental factors, lifestyle habits and intoxication are attributed as the main reasons for male infertility. Before we get into the causes of male infertility, take a look at four things that needs to happen for your partner to conceive:
- Your body must be functioning correctly to trigger the production of healthy sperm in the testicles
- Sperms should mix with semen properly and then ejaculated into the penis
- Adequate sperm count (i.e. number of sperms in the semen) to fertilize the women’s egg. Should be at least 40 million per ejaculate
- Motility of the sperm to penetrate the women’s egg
Problems in any of these can precipitate into infertility in men. We try to explain the major causes of male infertility below:
#1 Blocked sperm tube
Certain diseases like sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea and Chlamydia, TB, schistosomiasis and testicular tumors may cause inflammation of the sperm tube. This leads to scarring and blockage of the sperm tube, preventing the normal course of the sperm from testicles.
#2 Poor quality and quantity of sperm
Sperm count and motility can get affected by various things:
- Childhood mumps leads to shrinking of testes
- Drinking excessive alcohol causes decreased production of male hormone (testosterone) and weakness of testes
- Failure of testes to descend from the abdomen
- Smoking and drug abuse
- Overheating due to hot tubs, saunas, wearing tight underwear
- Longer hours of working near a heat source
#3 Sexual problems
Due to emotional, physical or psychological stress, few men are unable to get or maintain an erection. Impotence and premature ejaculation are other issues. Also, conditions like intake of anti-hypertensive medications, surgical nerve damage of penis, scrotum, prostate or pelvis and chronic health disorders like diabetes lead to vascular changes that makes erection difficult.
#4 Environmental factors
Exposure to higher doses of environmental elements like industrial chemicals, painting materials, heavy metals like lead in pesticides and x-rays contribute to low sperm count and motility.
Health and lifestyle issues that lead to male infertility are:
- Use of anabolic steroids for muscle gain can cause shrinkage of testes
- Use of drugs like cocaine or marijuana may also reduce sperm number and quality
- Occupational and emotional stress
- Tobacco smoking and second-hand smoke may also lower sperm count
- Excessive bicycling
It is a physical disorder which is defined as the swelling of the veins that supply blood to the testicle and helps to maintain the ideal testicular temperature for production and growth of the sperm.
If you experience any of the below symptoms, we would suggest you seek advice from a male infertility doctor immediately:
- Unable to conceive a child after one year of regular unprotected sex
- Problems in erection or ejaculation
- Low sex drive
- Pain, discomfort or swelling in the testicle area
- History of prostrate, testicle or sexual problems
- Surgery of groin, scrotum, testicle or penis