Male Infertility: Facts and Myths

Q. What are the symptoms of male infertility?

A. The main sign of male infertility may present as the inability to conceive a child. In some cases, there may be no other apparent symptoms.

Other physical signs or symptoms could potentially include:

  • Problems with sexual function
  • Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicular area
  • A hormonal imbalance causing the growth of breast tissue (gynecomastia), decreased facial/body hair, etc.
  • A lower-than-normal sperm count

Q. When should I see my doctor?

A: If there are physical signs or symptoms that are of concern to you, don’t hesitate to follow-up with your doctor. These might include erection or ejaculation problems, a history of sexual problems or other reasons.

Alternatively, if there are no physical indications, and if you are having frequent unprotected sexual intercourse but are unable to conceive a child in a year’s time (if less than 35 years old; or six months if more than 35 years old) it may be time to see your doctor for further investigation and assessment.

Q: What are the causes of male infertility?

A: There can be many different causes for male infertility. To name a few:

  • Taking certain medications or illicit drugs (marijuana or cocaine may decrease sperm count and quality)
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco smoking or second-hand smoke
  • Increased temperature of the genitalia
  • Inherited disorder
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Obesity

Q: Are there risk factors that can contribute to male infertility?

A: There may be many contributing risk factors, including:

  • Smoking
  • Illicit drug use
  • Being overweight
  • Past or present infection
  • Exposure to chemicals or toxins
  • Overheating of the testicles
  • Injury, trauma or surgery
  • Medical conditions (inherited, undescended testicles, tumors/radiation therapy)
  • X-rays

Q: Is male infertility preventable?

A: In some cases, men may be able to limit or decrease their exposure to risk factors (see above) which can help, but this alone may not be 100 per cent effective in preventing infertility. If someone has an inherited reason for infertility or a chromosomal deficiency, then this is obviously not preventable.

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The content on this website is for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health-care regimen.