1 in 7 couples have problems getting pregnant. 1/3 are male, 1/3 are female, and 1/3 are either both or unexplained. 

Male infertility afflicts about 50% of all infertile couples. Within one year of trying, 80-85% of couples will get pregnant but it takes longer than a year for 15-20% of couples. Male infertility is usually diagnosed when there is a problem with his sperm analysis, either no sperm or not enough, or abnormal sperm.

Most common physical causes of male infertility:

  • Sperm can become trapped inside the testicles
  • STD's (sexually transmitted diseases) can cause male tube damage
  • Varicoceles (this is where the veins around the testicles enlarge)
  • Mumps, if a man had mumps as a child, this could have caused a drop in sperm production.
  • Some genetic illnesses
  • Some cancer treatments can cause damage to the cells that produce sperm
  • Testicles that didn't descend at birth can cause poor quality sperm and reduced sperm production
  • Vasectomy reversal can lead to low-quality sperm
  • Hormonal problems can lead to poor quality or low levels of sperm.

Psychological and lifestyle causes

These can be psychological as well as medical problems, such as:

  • Erectile dysfunction, or difficulty in getting or maintaining an erection
  • Lifestyle and stress
  • Some recreational drugs can affect sperm production. Medicinal prescribed drugs can also affect the quality of sperm. If you are taking a prescribed drug, make sure that your GP knows that you are planning to start a family. Some anabolic steroids will cease sperm production completely!

Testing for male infertility

If you and your partner have been trying to get pregnant for over a year, it may be advisable to visit your GP. Tests for male infertility may include:

  • Semen analysis
  • Medical history check
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Some forms of genetic testing
  • Sperm function testing
  • X-rays
  • Testicular biopsy

Once the reason for male infertility has been established, infertility treatment can begin.

Read More:
How Long Does Sperm Survive?
Why Can't We Get Pregnant?
Male Fertility Testing: Sperm Analysis and Count