For men looking to enter fatherhood, it is important to know how your health plays a factor in fertility. Male infertility can be caused by a number of different environmental, medical, and lifestyle influences, some of which can be controlled.
Getting a partner pregnant is a marathon for the male sperm, which must be healthy and abundant enough to be carried into the semen and exert the mobility to reach and fertilize the egg.
If you’re a man struggling to get your partner pregnant, then consider these fertility factors:
Medical Factors that Cause Male Infertility
Men who are struggling with male infertility should first consult their doctor. There are a number of health issues that can reduce your odds of producing a child, including (but not limited to):
- Trouble Performing Sexual Intercourse
This includes erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, anatomical abnormalities, and even psychological problems.
- Side Effects of Medication
Certain medications such as steroids, cancer treatments, and testosterone replacement therapy can produce side effects such as reduced sperm production.
Infections like epididymitis, orchitis, and certain STD’s can impact sperm production or cause scarring that reduces the size of the sperms’ passageways. It’s important to treat infections immediately, as they can cause permanent testicular damage.
Both benign and cancerous tumors as well as their treatments can affect the pituitary glands and male reproductive organs.
- Testicular Disorders
This includes undescended testicles and other disorders that create a hormone imbalance within the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands.
- Prior Surgical Procedures
Multiple different surgeries can impact male fertility, both intentionally and as a side effect. This includes vasectomies, inguinal hernia repairs, scrotal surgeries, testicular surgeries, large abdominal surgeries, and prostate surgeries.
- Genetic Defects
There are a wide range of genetic defects that can impact male fertility, including chromosome defects, Celiac disease and defects of the tubules.
Varicocele causes a swelling of the veins that drain the testicles. This common cause is usually reversible.
Lifestyle Factors that Cause Male Infertility
Just as influential as medical factors, your lifestyle choices can either increase or reduce your sperm count and fertility. It’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid addictive habits, such as:
- Alcohol Abuse
Drinking alcohol frequently and in high volume lowers testosterone levels and sperm production. These effects can be reversed when you cut down on your alcohol consumption. Three half-pint glasses of alcohol per day should be the limit to avoid side-effects.
- Smoking Tobacco
Cigarettes reduce sperm count and damage sperm, among other health hazards.
- Using Illicit Drugs
Illicit drugs such as marijuana and cocaine can reduce both the quality and quantity of male sperm.
Long-term anabolic steroid use can cause testicles to shrink and dramatically lower sperm production, decreasing fertility and even causing sterility.
Severe weight gain can cause a change in hormones that directly impacts your sperm quality.
Long-term stress can reduce your sperm count by interfering with the hormones needed to produce them.
Environmental Factors that Cause Male Infertility
While the impact of environmental factors may not be immediately obvious, they play a prevalent role in your health, including male fertility. Make sure you avoid these elements both at home and in the workplace:
- Chemical and Metal Exposure
Studies have shown benzenes, toluene, xylene, herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, lead, and other chemical and metal elements can reduce male sperm production.
- Radiation Exposure
High doses of radiation can poses several medical concerns, including a permanent reduction in your sperm count.
Whether you’re exposed to elevated temperatures or produce them through tight clothing or prolonged exposure to laptops or other heat producing technology placed upon your lap, overheating can temporarily reduce sperm production and quality.
Is Male Infertility Reversible?
Depending on the diagnosis, the effects may be reversible. However, in cases where health factors permanently render a male patient infertile doesn’t mean that assisted reproductive techniques such as in vitro fertilization can’t be used to induce a pregnancy.
If you’re struggling with male infertility, make an appointment with your doctor today. After diagnosing the cause of male infertility, you and your doctor can discuss what options are available to increase fertility or help induce pregnancy through medical procedures.