When you’re ready to start or grow your family, discovering that you can’t conceive can be emotionally trying. While no one is eager to receive a diagnosis of infertility, men have unique psychological challenges in coping with reproductive problems. Cultural expectations of masculinity can make addressing male infertility a considerable struggle.
Studies have found that men experience a desire for parenthood on par with women, and facing infertility can trigger significant anxiety and even trauma in men that isn’t socially recognized.
Reproductive challenges in men aren’t unusual, and they aren’t a sign of any deficits in manhood or general vitality. They can have a variety of causes and are correctable in many cases with the right male infertility treatments.
What is Infertility?
Male infertility is considered a reproductive system disorder where the male partner is incapable of causing pregnancy. To achieve conception, the male partner’s reproductive system must produce a sufficient quantity of healthy sperm. He must then achieve erection and ejaculation, effectively introducing the sperm to the egg to fertilize. Deficiencies in any of these mechanisms can cause male infertility.
Although conversations about fertility tend to focus on women’s ability to conceive, male infertility is a contributing factor in approximately one-third of reported reproductive challenges between partners in the United States. (Female infertility accounts for another third of unsuccessful pregnancies, and unexplained infertility problems account for the final third.)
Male infertility is either related to the inability to produce healthy sperm or caused by structural abnormalities that interfere with sperm’s release. The failure to produce or release sperm can have medical, lifestyle, and environmental causes.
- Erectile dysfunction. The inability to achieve or maintain an erection, thereby preventing ejaculation and the release of sperm. This can be caused by unmanaged cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure, among other issues. There can be psychological factors too. Stress and depression can trigger erectile dysfunction.
- Hormonal issues. Disordered hormone production can lead to fertility challenges. These may be caused by adrenal, pituitary, and thyroid disorders, an undescended testicle, or testicular cancer. Radiation treatments for cancer can interfere with hormone signals relating to sperm production.
- Immune response disorders. Though rare, the production of anti-sperm antibodies can cause male infertility. This is when the immune system attacks sperm. This typically occurs after a testicular injury or an infection in the prostate.
- Infections. Infections that can inhibit sperm generation and sperm release can be either sexually transmitted (STIs) or non-sexually transmitted. These can cause inflammation, scarring, and blockages that make sperm passage difficult or prevent healthy sperm production. The most common infections that impede sperm production and transfer are epididymitis, gonorrhea, hepatitis B virus, and mumps.
- Obesity. Excessive adipose tissue can cause changes in hormone production that negatively impact male fertility. It has also been found that overweight and obese men have compromised sperm production and generate greater quantities of sperm with low motility (slow sperm) and abnormal shape than non-obese men.
- Structural abnormalities. These are anatomical disorders that inhibit the release of sperm, either due to congenital malformations or acquired anomalies through injury or surgery. Spinal cord injuries, injuries to the testicles, bladder surgeries, prostate surgeries, and urethra surgeries can cause Ejaculation issues (retrograde ejaculation) and tubule disorders that can cause infertility or subfertility. Structural abnormalities can also inhibit sexual performance, causing pain or the inability to achieve or maintain an erection.
- Cigarette smoking. Smokers tend to have lower sperm counts than their non-smoking counterparts.
- Heavy alcohol consumption. Alcohol can cause reduced testosterone production and inhibit the creation of sperm. It can also contribute to erectile dysfunction and chronic conditions leading to reduced fertility.
- Heavy drug use. The regular use of certain narcotics – cocaine or methamphetamine – can lower sperm quality and production. Drug use can also contribute to general health issues, like cardiovascular abnormalities and high blood pressure, that compromise fertility. The abuse of anabolic steroids can disrupt natural hormone production signals, interfering with the ability to produce sperm.
Environmental pollutants have been found to contribute to male factor infertility. These can come from living for extended periods in industrial regions (near factories, busy highways, refineries), agricultural regions, or parts of the world where water and air contamination are common. Working closely with toxic substances can also reduce sperm count and even permanent infertility. Three of the most common categories of environmental toxins that interfere with male fertility are:
- Heavy metals
The team at PRC can help you overcome your fertility challenges with a combination of innovative male infertility treatment protocols and personalized, integrated fertility strategies. Our team will provide you with treatment plans that respect your emotional and physical comfort. We are committed to offering the support you need to overcome your anxieties about your infertility, help you optimize your overall health, and improve your chances of achieving a successful pregnancy.
Building a family is within your reach.