Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Causes of Infertility


Infertility in Men

For men, there are a variety of factors that could lead to infertility. Many researchers believe the causes of declining male fertility during this century are environmental; they include pesticide and chemical exposure, drug use, radiation and pollution. Risks include:

  • exposure to toxic substances or hazards on the job, such as lead, cadmium, mercury, ethylene oxide, vinyl chloride, radioactivity and X-rays
  • cigarette or marijuana use
  • heavy alcohol consumption
  • prescription drugs for high blood pressure (calcium channel blockers), ulcers, and psoriasis
  • DES exposure in utero
  • exposure of the genitals to elevated temperatures, such as hot baths, whirlpools and steam rooms
  • medical risks, including hernia repair, undescended testicles, history of prostatitis or genital infection and mumps after puberty
  • Some STDs can lead to epididymitis (inflammation of the duct which carries sperm). Ultimately, infertility can be a consequence of STDs. To decrease this risk, practice safe sex by using latex condoms. Have any unusual symptoms checked out and treated early — and make sure both partners are treated simultaneously.

More to Explore