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Male Infertility Advances Provide Hope for all Couples

a blog by Jane Frederick, M.D., HRC Fertility, February 6, 2015

It used to be that a diagnosis of “male infertility” was typically met with despair as it was commonly known that male infertility was more difficult to treat. Thankfully, advances over the past 10 years have greatly improved the changes of building a family for those diagnosed with infertility. Now, over 90 percent of men with a diagnosis of male infertility will reach their family building goals. It is important to look at the causes of male infertility. In follow-up blog posts, I will explore the treatment and prevention.

Infertility in men can be caused by different factors and is typically evaluated by a semen analysis. A specialist will evaluate the number of sperm (concentration), motility (movement), and morphology (shape). A slightly abnormal semen analysis does not mean that a man is necessarily infertile. Instead, a semen analysis helps determine if and how male factors are contributing to infertility.

The great news is that all of the below conditions -- which, according to the CDC are the major causes of male infertility -- have corresponding treatments.

Conditions that can contribute to abnormal semen analyses include:

  • Varicoceles, a condition in which the veins on a man’s testicles are large and cause them to overheat. The heat may affect the number or shape of the sperm.
  • Medical conditions or exposures such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, trauma, infection, testicular failure, or treatment with chemotherapy or radiation.
  • Unhealthy habits such as heavy alcohol use, testosterone supplementation, smoking, anabolic steroid use, and illicit drug use.
  • Environmental toxins including exposure to pesticides and lead.

In our next blog post, we will focus on prevention.

Comments (2)

Hi Red,

The doctor is saying that advances in the field make it so that male factor infertility can easily be treated. She is going to address that in upcoming blog posts, but I presume she is referring to the advances in diagnostic testing (semen analysis), our knowledge of how lifestyle and environment impact sperm production, and treatments like IVF with ICSI for severe male factor infertility or use of fertility drugs to boost a man's sperm count. Stay tuned to learn more :)


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