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Basic Causes of Male Infertility

13 of 14 in Series: The Essentials of Men’s Sexual Health

If a couple tries to conceive but can’t seem to do it, one of the first things that doctors look for is a problem with the man’s sperm. Sperm compose about 5 to 10 percent of semen, and are the only part of the semen that can cause pregnancy. If a man is infertile, there is a problem with his sperm — often a low sperm count or low motility. Sometimes, male infertility can be treated.

Just because your testicles look normal doesn’t mean that they are fully functioning. The most common problems of male infertility are

  • Low sperm count, which means that the man isn’t producing enough sperm

  • Low motility, where the sperm he is producing lack sufficient ability to swim to the egg

The basis for the problems may be abnormal sperm production, which can be difficult to treat, or that the testicles are too warm. Heat is known to decrease sperm count, so the solution could be as simple as changing the style of underwear from tighty whities (briefs) to boxers. Another cause can be a blockage somewhere along the line, which may be corrected through surgery.

Interestingly enough, most semen analysis is done by gynecologists, specialists in the female reproductive system. A gynecologist is usually the first person a woman consults when she has problems getting pregnant. Commonly, the gynecologist asks that the man’s sperm be analyzed. If the tests reveal a problem with the sperm, the man is sent to a urologist for further evaluation.

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