Infertility occurs equally in both males and females. If you and your partner are trying to conceive, it’s important to be aware of male infertility factors that elevate your risk and how they can affect your chances of successful conception.
What are of the risk factors for infertility? We asked one of the leading Colorado male fertility experts, Dr. Barrett Cowan, to share his expertise on these male factors and infertility causes.
Breaking Down the Top Male Infertility Factors
Fertility is complex. There are many unique factors that impact the fertility status of males, and all of those factors cannot be fully covered in a single article.
Fertility education is one of our goals at Posterity Health. As such, our male fertility specialists will evaluate you to determine what are your fertility factors during a telehealth consultation.
In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about a few of the most common infertility factors that affect men.
1. Sperm Disorders
Sperm disorders are conditions that either cause defects in sperm quality (e.g., immature cells, decreased motility, abnormal sperm morphology, etc.) or a decrease in the quantity of sperm (Merck Manuals). These disorders can develop from genetic factors, developmental issues within the testicles, exposures to harmful external elements, or hormonal issues. These sperm disorders include:
- Azoospermia – A total lack of sperm in the ejaculate
- Oligospermia – A low sperm count
- Asthenospermia – A decreased sperm motility (swimming)
- Teratospermia – An abnormal size and shape of sperm
There are many steps that you can take to improve your sperm counts and quality and overcome these disorders, the first of which is undergoing an evaluation by a reproductive urologist (also called a male fertility specialist). For any sperm disorder, each case should be treated individually because there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
2. Physical Factors
Several medical conditions and physical health issues can increase the risk of infertility in males. Your fertility status may be negatively impacted by health concerns like:
- Hormone imbalances or endocrine disorders
- Injury to the testicles
- Undescended testes
- Physical blockages in your reproductive tract
- Infections or inflammation in the reproductive tract
- Varicocele (dilated veins draining the testicle(s))
Most of these factors can impact your ability to produce sperm within healthy parameters. Effective treatments are available for many of these health issues and may include hormone therapies, medications, or medical procedures. A semen analysis is the first step in determining the appropriate treatment method for these physical factors.
3. Environmental Factors
The surrounding environment of your daily life plays a significant role in your fertility status. Overexposure to certain elements like high heat or toxins can reduce your sperm function/production. If you’re trying to get pregnant, make sure you limit your exposure to things like:
- Radiation and x-rays
- Excessive heat (e.g., sauna, hot tub, steam room, etc.)
- Heavy metals (e.g., lead, zinc, etc.)
- Industrial chemicals (e.g., pesticides, painting materials, etc.)
Fortunately, when you reduce exposure to or remove these types of environmental factors in your daily life, your situation may be reversible.
4. Age and Lifestyle
Similar to how reproductive health declines in women over time, males can expect a decline in their sperm health as they grow older. In fact, research has shown that male fertility begins to decline at 35. If you’re past that age and you want to have kids, then it’s probably time to order a semen analysis to fully understand your current fertility status and, if needed, how you can improve it.
Aside from your age, many of your current lifestyle habits and behaviors may contribute to infertility. These include things like:
- Drug and alcohol use
- Smoking cigarettes or use of tobacco products
- Diet and nutrition
- Prescription medications
The good news is that if you change these behaviors, you will possibly see improvements in your semen quality.
5. Sexual Dysfunction
It’s estimated that infertility affects up to 12% of all men (NIH). Sexual dysfunction occurs frequently in men of any reproductive age and can contribute to infertility in some instances.
To be clear: sexual dysfunction in men does not always mean that they are infertile. If you suffer from one of the following forms of sexual dysfunction, you may have a greater risk of infertility:
- Low libido
- Ejaculation issues (e.g., premature ejaculation, delayed or inhibited ejaculation, retrograde ejaculation, etc.)
- Erectile dysfunction
The majority of cases of sexual dysfunction in men can be improved or treated through a variety of means. Medications and hormone therapies can help address ED and some ejaculation issues. Other treatments like talk therapy can help address psychogenic concerns that may be contributing to decreased libido or other ejaculation issues.
Evaluate Your Semen for Male Infertility Factors
At Posterity Health, we can properly assess your current fertility status with our Baseline Assessment. This service includes an at-home semen analysis and a telehealth consultation with one of our male fertility specialists. During your virtual appointment, we will walk you through the details of your semen analysis and accurately interpret the results to identify all potential male infertility factors. From there, we will make expert recommendations on your next steps and share tons of educational resources with you.
Order your Baseline Assessment today to start assessing for male infertility factors.
If you’ve still got questions, contact our Colorado male fertility specialists to learn more.