Male infertility is a prevalent sexual health problem that can negatively affect a man’s self-esteem and self-worth, intimate relationships, and other aspects of his life. What should you do to protect your fertility? What things pose as threats to your ability to conceive?
A look at the common factors that can negatively affect male infertility
There are several different things that can negatively impact a man’s sperm production and sperm quality and can lead to infertility.
The following are examples of risk factors of male fertility that every man should be aware of:
The body produces several hormones that play a big role in various important sexual and reproductive functions. If there is a shortage of even just one of them, the imbalance can lead to some health problems that can impair fertility. For example, if you are not able to produce enough testosterone —which is the primary male sex hormone — in your body, you will have trouble producing enough amounts of sperm that are of good quality and motility, increasing your risk of infertility.
Poor sperm quality
Sperm quality is vital to a man’s fertility. If your testicles are not able to produce good quality sperm, maybe because of genetic reasons or injuries, conceiving with your partner will be problematic. To ensure that your sperms are healthy, you have to maintain normal testosterone levels, stay away from smoking, drugs, and other bad habits, and make smarter and healthier lifestyle choices.
Varicocele is a condition in which the veins in the sac that contains your testicles are inflamed. Because of the inflammation, your testicles will not be able to properly carry out their jobs, resulting in reduced sperm count and low sperm quality.
Undescended testicles is another condition that can affect male fertility. It occurs when one or both of the testicles are not descended from the abdomen. Usually, it strikes during fetal development, resulting in fertility issues throughout adulthood.
Obesity is a medical condition that is linked to many different serious health problems, such as heart disease, kidney problems, and diabetes. What is interesting is that it can also be a risk factor in male fertility. If your body carries excess fats and pounds, you are highly likely to suffer from abnormal hormonal changes that can lower your sperm count and sperm quality, which can eventually lead to infertility.
Excessive alcohol consumption
Drinking too much alcohol is not only damaging to the liver, heart, and kidneys, it can also harm your fertility and sexual health. If your alcohol intake is excessive, your body will fail to produce sufficient testosterone, resulting in reduced sperm production and poor sperm quality. You will also have trouble getting erections and sustaining erections, which can eventually lead to erectile dysfunction.
The use of anabolic steroids, cocaine, marijuana, and other illicit drugs can impair your fertility. They contain compounds that can prevent your body from producing enough testosterone, reduce your libido or sex drive, and lower your sperm production and sperm quality, resulting in erectile dysfunction, infertility, and other sexual and reproductive health complications.
Smoking is a bad habit that does not offer anything good for the body. It can cause serious harm and damage to your lungs, brain, heart, and other vital organs. In addition to that, it can decrease your testosterone levels and sperm count, increasing your risk of infertility, erectile dysfunction, and other health problems.
Tumors that grow in or around the pituitary glands and other glands in your body can influence sexual health. Whether cancerous or nonmalignant, they can impair important sexual and reproductive functions, and cause infertility and other problems. If you undergo chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation treatment to get rid of them, the side effects can also cause low testosterone levels and reduced sperm count.
Men who have genetic syndromes have an increased risk of abnormalities in their reproductive parts. If, for example, you have a condition known as Klinefelter’s syndrome, which is characterized by having been born with a single Y chromosome and two X chromosomes (rather than a single Y chromosome and a single X chromosome that is normal for males), you may encounter problems with sperm production, testosterone levels, and fertility.
Undergoing certain surgical procedures
Treatment for some medical conditions, such as hernia, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer, may require patients to undergo surgery. After the procedure, full treatment and recovery from the initial medical issue are possible, but the risk of experiencing problems with their fertility may rise.
Exposure to toxic elements
If you are often exposed to pesticides, herbicides, organic solvents, paint, benzenes, xylene, and others, the toxins contained in these things may get into your system and harm your body’s ability to produce enough healthy sperm, leading to low sperm count and poor sperm quality. For your safety, you should always wear the necessary protective gear when handling these chemicals.
Dealing with so much stress all the time can be bad for your fertility too. High stress levels can cause hormonal imbalance in the body, affecting your testosterone production. If your testosterone levels are low, it can lower your sperm count and quality, and eventually lead to infertility.
Signs and symptoms of male infertility
Many cases of male infertility do not cause visible symptoms early on. However, if the warnings signs start to pop up, the following are the most common ones that manifest:
- Lower libido or sex drive
- Trouble ejaculating or ejaculating smaller volumes of semen
- A sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculate or less than 15 million per milliliter of semen
- Difficulty sustaining or keeping an erection for sex
- Pain and discomfort in the testicles
- A bump or swelling in the testicles
- Reduced body hair (such as facial hair, pubic hair, and chest hair)
- Frequent and recurring respiratory infections
You should go to your doctor once you experience any of these symptoms to get an accurate diagnosis and receive proper treatment as soon as possible.