Male infertility explained
One-third of infertility cases are caused by male reproductive problems, ranging from lifestyle factors to abnormal sperm production, abnormal sperm function, abnormal sperm delivery, physical trauma or previous cancer treatment.
26. september - 2022
Causes of infertility in men
One in six couples have difficulties getting pregnant. Overall, one-third of infertility cases are caused by male reproductive issues, one-third by female reproductive problems and another third by both male and female reproductive challenges or by unknown factors.
Causes of male infertility may include:
Poor quality semen and sperm
- Low sperm count
- Absence of sperm
- Poor sperm motility
- Abnormal sperm shape
- An infection of your testicles
- Testicular injury or damage
- Cancer treatment
- A congenital defect
- Undescended testicles
- No semen release during intercourse
- Hormonal issues in the testicles or pituitary gland (which produces hormones that stimulate the testicles to produce testosterone)
Medicines and drugs
- In some cases, certain types of medication can cause male infertility issues. E.g. chemotherapy drugs, anabolic steroids (often used illegally) and anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat conditions such as Crohn’s disease
- Recreational drugs
- Drinking alcohol
- Lack of exercise
- Stress levels
Male fertility treatment options
In cases where the azoospermia is caused by mechanical blockage to the sperm flow, then TESA or testicular sperm aspiration can be used to extract the sperm. A mechanical blockage occurs in men who have had a vasectomy, or who are missing the vas deferens.
A TESA procedure is minimally invasive and can be done in your doctor’s office under local anaesthetic. A needle is inserted into the testicle and tubules where sperm is aspirated through a syringe. As no incisions are made, you won’t need any stitches.
A highly specialised procedure, Micro TESE or Microsurgical Testicular Sperm Extraction, extracts sperm from the testes in men who have no sperm in the ejaculate. In case of non-obstructive azoospermia, which means a man cannot produce enough sperm to have a detectable amount in his semen, this procedure offers hope to find small amounts of sperm under the microscope. The aim of Micro TESE is to identify any area within the testes which is still able to produce sperm. Small samples are removed and laboratory staff will examine the specimens under the microscope. If sperm are found, a procedure called ICSI will follow. The micro TESE success rate is promising. In about 60% of the cases, doctors will be able to find sperm during micro TESE procedures.