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Male Infertility

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

There are many male factors that can make a couple unable to become pregnant. These may include conditions such as the following:

  • diabetic neuropathy, in which nerve damage causes problems with erection or ejaculation
  • extreme obesity hormone imbalances, such as hypothyroidism
  • hypogonadism, a condition in which the testes fail to develop normally
  • inherited conditions that impair the ability to produce sperm, such as Down syndrome
  • testicular torsion, a condition in which the blood supply to the testicle is cut off
  • undescended testicles, a condition in which the testes fail to drop into the scrotum
  • varicocele, a group of enlarged veins inside the scrotum

Diseases also can be a factor in infertility, for example:

  • autoimmune disorders, which can cause the body to produce antibodies that attack sperm
  • liver disease
  • sickle cell anemia
  • kidney disease
  • genital infections such as gonorrhea and genital herpes
  • infections of the reproductive organs, such as prostatitis and epididymitis
  • infectious diseases, including mumps

Additional factors in infertility include the following:

  • certain medications, such as cimetidine and phenytoin
  • certain supplements, such as anabolic steroids
  • chemotherapy used for cancer
  • diet low in folic acid or low in lycopene, which is found in plants such as tomatoes
  • excessive exercise, which lowers testosterone levels and decreases sperm production
  • exposure to diethylstilbestrol, also known as DES, as an infant in utero
  • exposure to toxins such as lead, mercury, or pesticides
  • frequent hot baths or use of hot tubs
  • injury to the testicles
  • low sperm count, poor sperm quality, and poor movement of sperm
  • radiation therapy
  • recreational drugs, such as alcohol, methadone, and marijuana
  • sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation
  • side effects of treatments for testicular cancer or prostate cancer
  • surgery of the reproductive system, such as transurethral resection of the prostate
  • vasectomy, a surgical procedure to tie off the sperm-carrying tubes
  • wearing tight-fitting pants and underwear
  • work that requires prolonged sitting, which increases the temperature in the scrotum