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Male Infertility

Overview of Male Infertility

Infertility is a term doctors use if a man hasn't been able to get a woman pregnant after at least one year of trying. Male infertility can result from physical problems, hormone problems, and lifestyle or environmental factors.

About a third of the time, infertility is because of a problem with the man. One third of the time, it is a problem with the woman.

Causes of Male Infertility

Like female infertility, male infertility can result from physical problems, such as testes that do not make enough normal sperm, hormonal problems, and lifestyle or environmental factors, including (but not limited to): 

  • Age
  • Stress
  • Exposing the testes to high temperatures, which can affect the ability of the sperm to move and to fertilize an egg.
  • Tight underwear. For some men, wearing tight underwear can also increase the temperature of the testes
  • Smoking, drugs or alcohol
  • Medications
  • Environmental toxins
  • Genetic conditions, such as Klinefelter syndrome.
  • Other health problems. For instance:
    Cryptorchism is a condition where the testes do not descend into the scrotum. Although it does not usually affect the ability to have and sustain an erection, cryptorchism means that the testes are still inside the body cavity, which has a higher temperature than the external scrotum. 

But, in some cases, health care providers cannot determine a cause for infertility in the man or woman. In addition, some known causes of infertility do not have any treatments.

Testing for Male Infertility

Although not getting pregnant is an indication of possible infertility, only a health care provider can provide a diagnosis of infertility. Those who suspect they are infertile should see their health care providers, including:

  • Couples who have been trying to conceive for a year without getting pregnant
  • Women who have experienced menstrual irregularities or who have had endometriosis or uterine fibroids
  • Women who have gotten pregnant but who have had more than one miscarriage or stillbirth
  • Men and women with certain genetic conditions

Treatment for Male Infertility

There are a variety of ways to treat infertility, including:

  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Intrauterine insemination/artificial insemination (woman is injected with carefully prepared sperm from the husband, partner, or a donor)
  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as in vitro fertilization.

Most often, health care providers treat infertility with medication or surgical repair of the reproductive organs.

In addition, lifestyle changes may also help alleviate infertility, such as reducing stress, diet modification, stopping use of drugs or alcohol, or reducing the temperature around the testes


Supportive information obtained from:National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver - National Institutes of Child Health & Human Development (NIH)

AUAFoundation - The Official Foundation of the American Urological Association

NKDEP - National Kidney Disease Education Program

NKUDIC- National Kidney and Urologic Diseases
Information Clearinghouse

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases
Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC)Kidney and Urologic Diseases A-Z list of Topics and Titles

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