For a couple to produce a child, both the male and the female need to be healthy. Sometimes, if more than a year passes and they are unable to conceive, fertility problems might be to blame. What many people don't realize is that fertility problems often lie with the man instead of the woman.
According to research, infertility affects around 10% of the population who are of reproductive age in the U.S. (or 6.1 million people). It is estimated that one third of all infertility cases (approximately 35%) are actually due to male infertility factors.
In general, fertility is based on overall health. A man that lives a relatively healthy lifestyle has a higher probability of producing healthy sperm. Things that affect health negatively will also have a negative impact on fertility.
Some things that can contribute to male infertility include:
Low sperm count, ejaculation problems and "abnormal" sperm are often tied to infertility issues in men. Abnormal sperm is sperm that is malformed and has a shorter than usual lifespan. Other conditions include testosterone deficiency, trauma or injury to the testes, structural abnormality or blockage in the vas deferens, and varicocele, a varicose vein in the testicle that produces too much heat that can harm and kill the sperm.
Malnutrition, or a diet that lacks proper or inadequate nutrients like vitamin C and zinc often affects the health of sperm which can lead to infertility.
Some diseases like tuberculosis, anemia and mumps in adulthood can cause infertility. Similarly, sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea can also damage the spermatic ducts and lead to problems. There is also the risk of transmitting such diseases to your partner causing her to become infertile. Infections of the reproductive system such as epididymitis, orchitis and prostatitis are also believed to cause infertility.
Some medications are also believed to contribute to male infertility. These include cancer-treating agents such as chemotherapy, anti-fungal medications (Ketoconazole), anti-diarrhea drugs (Sulfasalazine), Azulfidine (a drug used to treat ulcerative colitis), and some groups of antibiotics like nitrofurans and macrolides. Anabolic steroids are also known to cause testicular shrinkage and can affect fertility.
Some of the things that can cause male infertility are directly connected to your lifestyle. These include:
- Smoking dramatically decreases sperm count and the overall health of sperm cells.
- Drug and Alcohol abuse.
- Excessive stress.
- Overly intense exercise which can lower sperm count by producing higher levels of adrenal steroid hormones, which decrease the amount of testosterone in the body.
- Tight underwear and other restrictive clothing.
- Hot tubs, saunas or anything that raises the temperature of the scrotum dramatically.
- Exposure to environmental hazards such as pesticides, lead paint, mercury, benzene, boron, radiation (x-rays), radioactive substances, and heavy metals.
As you can see, the list of things that can cause male infertility is quite extensive. While not all of these can be avoided, if you're looking to conceive then it definitely helps to know what may affect your chances. As usual, always consult your physician if you think you might be experiencing fertility problems.
Posted by PRS
Tuesday, February 13th, 2007
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