Causes Of Infertility In Men
Approximately 30% of infertility cases in the UAE are due to male infertility.
19 July 2017
Male infertility is any condition in which anatomical or genetic disorders in men make them unable to conceive with their female partners. Most commonly, these problems arise when men are unable to produce or deliver fully-developed sperm. For about one in five infertile couples, the deficiency lies solely in the male partner. Studies have also estimated that one in 20 men has some kind of fertility problem due to a drastically low sperm count.
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There are approximately 150,000 cases of infertility in the UAE alone, out of which approximately 30 percent – or 45,000 – are cases related solely to male infertility. An infertility diagnosis can lead to a very difficult time for a couple. However, if people are aware of the causes and treatments that are now available to them, infertility can be caught relatively early and solutions for conceiving can be provided by fertility experts.
What are some of the causes of male infertility?
Sperm abnormalities are one of the primary factors that result in male infertility. They themselves can be caused by a range of factors, including congenital birth defects, disease, chemical exposure, and lifestyle habits. However, there are many cases in which the causes of sperm abnormalities are unknown despite trying the most advanced methods of diagnosis.
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Sperm abnormalities are categorized by whether they affect sperm count, sperm movement, or sperm shape. They include:
- Low Sperm Count - A sperm count of less than 20 million/mL is considered low sperm. Azoospermia refers to the complete absence of sperm cells in the ejaculate. Partial obstruction anywhere in the long passages through which sperm pass can reduce sperm counts.
- Poor Sperm Motility - Sperm motility is the sperm's ability to move. If movement is slow or not in a straight line, the sperm have difficulty invading the cervical mucus or penetrating the hard outer shell of the egg. If less than 40% of sperm are able to move in a straight line, the condition is considered abnormal.
- Abnormal Sperm Morphology - Morphology refers to shape and structure. Abnormally shaped sperm cannot fertilize an egg. About 60% of the sperm should be normal in size and shape for adequate fertility. The perfect sperm structure to facilitate fertilization is an oval head and long tail.
- Cystic fibrosis: A disorder in which, due to a defective gene, causes a thick buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs resulting in an inability to breathe. The presence of cystic fibrosis can cause missing or obstructed vasa deferentia (the tubes that carry sperm).
- Polycystic kidney disease: A relatively common genetic disorder that causes large cysts to form on the kidneys and other organs during adulthood. If these cysts develop in the reproductive tract, they would end up causing infertility.
- Klinefelter syndrome: A condition marked by two X and one Y chromosomes (the norm is one X and one Y), which causes low testosterone levels and abnormalities of the seminiferous tubules, although most other male physical attributes are normal.
- Kartagener syndrome: A rare disorder that causes impaired sperm motility as well as severe respiratory infections and a reversed position of the major organs.
Retrograde ejaculation occurs when the muscles of the bladder wall do not function properly during orgasm and sperm are forced backward into the bladder instead of forward out of the urethra. This results in the sperm quality being severely impaired.
Hypogonadism is the general name for a severe deficiency in gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), the primary hormone that signals the process leading to the release of testosterone and other important reproductive hormones. Low levels of testosterone from any cause may result in defective sperm production.
Certain inherited disorders can impair fertility. The examples of which include: