Causes of Male Infertility – AskAwayHealth
November 13, 2021
Updated December 2022
Male infertility causes are as important as female infertility. Although male infertility is less common than female, failing to recognise it means the problem is not properly managed.
Infertility is a problem that affects both partners, so fertility treatment does not focus on just one person.
In this post, we’ll look at some conditions that fundamentally cause a man to be infertile.
By doing so, hopefully, we can:
Many causes of male infertility can be treated,
Some may be preventable, while others are caused by damage or diseases whose causes are beyond your control.
In many cases, the problems with fertility will commonly be:
In women, there are two X sex chromosomes (XX) that make up the pair, while in men, a Y chromosome must be present (XY).
In Klinefelter’s syndrome, there is an extra X chromosome; instead of XY, they have XXY.
Men with XXY have several typical physical characteristics, including:
In childhood, infection with Mumps can (rarely) lead to a swelling of the testicles and cause infertility.
More commonly, though, the infections are sexually transmitted infections like
This is a very painful condition in which the testis twists on its cord. As you can see in the image above, the testis is carried up or ‘rides high’ inside the scrotal sac on that side.
When this happens, there is damage to its blood vessels which again leads to damage to the epididymis (the site for sperm production).
Also referred to as varicose veins of the testes – again, in this condition, the blood supply to key parts of the testes is affected, which means that they will be damaged and unable to produce sperm.
Medicines and Chemicals
Environmental chemicals can affect the sperm-producing tissues in the testes, affecting their quality and quantity.
As research has shown, examples can include chemicals used in agricultural and industrial sectors.
Medications such as those used in the treatment of cancer can also affect the testes in a similar way.
This includes radiation for cancer treatment or exposure to X- rays during tests.
It is important to say that in some cases, we don’t know and the causes for failure in sperm production are not clear.
In these cases, the man can produce sperm of good quality and quantity. However, sperm cannot move from the ‘production factory’ within the testes to the penis for ejaculation during intercourse.
For whichever of the reasons below, the result is male infertility:
We’ve looked at how infection affects sperm production. Another problem that infections can cause is the effect on sperm movement.
Broadly this refers to different types of infections that can damage the tract through which the sperm will pass en route to the penis.
Examples are sexually transmitted infections such as Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea.
In some cases, sexually transmitted infections do not show any symptoms. They can cause damage to the reproductive passage that may not be obvious for months or years following the infection.
Another type of infection that affects the prostate gland – prostatitis – may be acute or chronic.
Inflammation from infection damages the tissues leading to a blockage in the route through which sperm gets to the penis.
The same type of blockage can arise from a change to its structure – it can happen with either Benign Prostatic Enlargement or Prostate Cancer.
Surgery like Vasectomy will divide/separate the vas deferens. This tube allows sperm to move from the testis to the penis in the ejaculatory fluid (semen), resulting in infertility.
The tubes that transport sperm and semen run through the prostate gland. The prostate is a small organ that sits behind the bladder in men.
After Prostate Surgery
Complications from a Prostate Surgery (which is one possible treatment for Prostate Cancer) lead to infertility as there may be an injury to the nerves and other close-by structures of the penis.
Sexual Problems which lead to Male infertility also include sexually transmitted infections.
Infrequent Intercourse and Erectile Dysfunction
Problems with ejaculation and erection can lead to infertility. It is often anecdotally blamed for infertility problems though it is only one out of several possibilities, as you can see.
It is also important to establish how often you are having sex. Infrequent intercourse may be from physical illness or mood problems causing loss of libido or sexual desire.
Injury to the Spinal Cord
Trauma and accidents will damage the nerve supply to the penis and other male reproductive structures.
It’s clear that many causes can lead to male infertility – some are more common than others.
We’ll look at a few more in the next segment of this topic.
Some medications can lead to infertility as one of their side effects.
Other conditions that could lead to infertility include:
To identify the cause of infertility in any specific case, the commonest test is the Semen analysis which identifies the following:
Click on the following link for a look at the different aspects of semen analysis in greater detail.
The main take-away from all this is – there is no single cure for male infertility problems.
There are many claims about certain treatments that offer a cure for infertility, Diabetes and some other medical conditions thrown in for good measure.
The discussion above should demonstrate that a clearer idea of the cause will lead to better chances of a cure.
If you have concerns about your reproductive health, you can schedule a one-to-one chat with one of our clinicians. We can explore specific enquiries about male and female fertility issues.
Till then, stay well!
Editing by AskAwayHealth Team
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on various healthcare conditions to help promote quality healthcare. The advice in our material is not meant to replace a qualified healthcare practitioner’s management of your specific condition.
To discuss your condition, please get in touch with a health practitioner or reach us directly.
Image Credits: Unsplash
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