Male infertility is more common than many realize. Many people in the United States and around the globe struggle with infertility. We understand that coming to terms with infertility is difficult, but it’s important to avoid placing blame on yourself during an already emotional time.
What may not be as widely known by those struggling with infertility are the causes of infertility, including causes of male infertility. Here, we break down the various factors of what can cause infertility in a man and what you can do if you face this road.
You can also reach out to speak with a surrogacy professional to learn what options are available when you’re trying to start a family but are dealing with infertility.
What Causes Male Infertility?
Male infertility is any health issue in a man that lowers the chances of his female partner becoming pregnant. Problems with male fertility and what causes male infertility can be from several health issues, including:
- Prior surgeries: Vasectomies, prostate surgeries, large abdominal surgeries, and other types of surgeries may cause issues with sperm production and function.
- Certain medications: There are certain medications for various health matters that can impair sperm production and decrease male fertility. Some of these medications include cancer medications, some arthritis drugs, and even testosterone replacement therapy, among others.
- Chromosome defects: Certain inherited disorders that cause males to be born with different chromosomes can cause abnormal development of male reproductive organs.
- Hormone imbalances: Infertility can sometimes result from disorders or abnormalities that affect hormonal systems.
- Varicocele: This is the most common reversible cause of male infertility. It is a swelling of the veins that drain the testicle and can lead to reduced sperm quality and quantity.
- Tumors: Nonmalignant tumors and cancers can affect the male reproductive organs directly. In some instances, surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy can be causes of male infertility.
- Infection: There are some infections that can interfere with sperm production or sperm health, including inflammation of the epididymis or testicles and some sexually transmitted infections.
- And more
Other male infertility causes can be from environmental factors and elements, such as heat, chemicals, and toxins, which can reduce sperm production or function. Some of the causes can be:
- Overheating the testicles: Higher temperatures can impair sperm production and function.
- Radiation or x-rays: Any exposure to radiation can cause a reduction in sperm production, sometimes being able to return to normal and other times being permanently reduced.
- Industrial chemicals: Exposure over a certain amount of time can contribute to low sperm counts.
- Heavy metal exposure: Exposure to heavy metals such as lead may cause male infertility.
There are also problems with making healthy sperm that are some of the most common known causes of male infertility. Sometimes, sperm may be abnormally shaped, unable to swim, or be immature. Not having enough sperm or not being able to make any sperm can also lead to fertility issues in men.
These problems can be caused by a number of different conditions, such as:
- Genetic diseases, such as hemochromatosis or cystic fibrosis
- Immune problems where you make antibodies against your own sperm
- Hormone or pituitary gland problems
- And more
How Common is Male Infertility? [Statistics and Facts]
Although it’s assumed that infertility is solely a problem for women, that’s actual untrue. Infertility is also an issue for men, with a male factor being a major contributing cause for at least half of all cases of infertility in the United States.
To help dispute the claim that infertility is only an issue for women, here are other important facts and statistics to know about infertility in men and causes of male infertility:
- About 10% of all males in the United States who are attempting to conceive struggle from infertility.
- In 2019, it was reported by 9% of men aged 15 to 44 that infertility is nearly as common in men as it is in women in the United States.
- Couples in which the male partner is 40 years or older are more likely to have difficulty conceiving.
- Sperm quality generally doesn’t become a problem for men until after the age of 60.
- Approximately 9% of men who are of reproductive age experience fertility issues.
- In around 40% of infertile couples, the male partner is either the sole cause or a contributing cause of male infertility.
- After a year of unprotected sex, about 12-15% of all couples are unable to conceive, while 10% are unable to conceive after two years of unprotected sex.
Lack of Sperm
- Approximately 1% of men suffer from azoospermia, or an absence of sperm.
- Around 10 to 15% of infertile men suffer from a lack of sperm.
- 25% to 35% of men with primary infertility problems have varicocele.
- 50% to 80% of men with secondary infertility issues have varicocele.
Between 8.9% to 68.7% of men with infertility have reported a lack of sexual desire or lack of sexual satisfaction, both as types of sexual dysfunction.
Are There Other Infertility Options? [Surrogacy Could be Right for You]
When you want to be a parent but are struggling with causes of male infertility, it’s not the easiest thing to accept and process. However, it’s not the end of the road for you as far as becoming the parent you’ve always hoped to be.
Although you may not be able to have a child through pregnancy between you and your partner, there are still options that allow you to have a child who is genetically related to you. For infertile couples, surrogacy can be the best option to start your family.
However, simply deciding to move from infertility to surrogacy is a big step. After spending many years and a lot of money trying to become pregnant to no avail, some intended parents may see surrogacy as a failure in a way.
Surrogacy won’t allow you the pregnancy experience you may have wanted, but it can still provide you the parenthood experience you’ve hoped for – which is all that matters, right?
For some people, it is; for other, giving up the experience of pregnancy is harder to accept and move past. The best way to determine if surrogacy after infertility is right for you is by talking with an infertility counselor and a surrogacy professional. They can give you a better idea of what to expect from the surrogacy process and whether you meet the requirements for intended parents pursuing surrogacy.
In the end, the decision to pursue surrogacy after infertility will be up to you and your partner. Surrogacy is an incredibly personal decision to make, so it’s important to discuss it in detail with your partner to determine if it’s the right infertility option for your situation.
Infertility and surrogacy are both emotional and personal decisions to work through, so it’s important to know there is never a rush to choose an option for you and your partner when you’re struggling with infertility. Surrogacy will always be an option for you.
As you work through the struggles and emotions of infertility, whether it’s causes of male infertility or not, know that you are never alone and that support is always available for you. If you’d like to speak with a surrogacy professional to learn more about surrogacy and how it can be a great option for you, you can always reach out online.