Reproduction or giving birth to a child is a natural process. Some consider it as a blessing from the God. Because, some experience difficulty in conceiving. This disability of giving birth to a child is called infertility. Both the couples can be the cause for it. Which means that, either the husband or the wife can be infertile. Most people consider infertility as a very common condition among women and uncommon among men. This concept proved wrong with the studies and finding by researchers.
What is male infertility?
The inability of a man to cause pregnancy in a fertile female partner is called male infertility. It is found that in one man in five infertile couples ,the problem lies with the male partner. There are various factors which cause infertility in men. as well as in women.
Infertility may not show any signs or symptoms. The process of ejaculation, intercourse and erection will happen as usual. Sperm abnormalities are said to be the main cause of male infertility. Studies state that more than 90% male infertility cases are caused due to sperm abnormalities. Other main causes of male infertility are:
- Retrograde Ejaculation
- Structural Abnormalities
- Hormonal Deficiencies and
- Genetic Disorders
Causes In Detail
A wide range of factors is said to cause sperm abnormalities. Factors include certain diseases, chemical exposure, lifestyle habits, congenital birth defects etc. are said to affect the sperm count. Sperm abnormalities are categorized into three according to their effect on the sperm movement, sperm count, and sperm shape. They are called Low Sperm Count (Oligospermia), Poor Sperm Motility (Asthenospermia), and Abnormal Sperm Morphology (Teratospermia).
Low Sperm Count (Oligospermia): If one has a fewer sperm count that is less than 20million/mL is called Oligospermia or Low Sperm Count. Some may experience a complete absence of sperm cells in the ejaculate, which is known as Azoospermia. The sperm count can also be reduced due to a partial obstruction which may occur anywhere in the long passages. The sperm count may also vary according to the time. There can be temporary low sperm counts which is a common issue among most of the people. A single test may not be able to represent the entire result.
Poor Sperm Motility (Asthenospermia): The ability of sperm to move is called sperm motility. The sperm may face difficulty in invading the cervical mucus or penetrating the hard outer shell of the egg due to the slow movement or not being in the straight line. It is considered abnormal when 60% of the sperm have normal mobility and the rest 40% are not able to move in a straight line. Sluggishly moving sperm may have certain defects which will make the sperm to be inefficient to fertilize the egg. The condition of Asthenospermia may be associated with the DNA fragmentation. This will increase the risk of disseminating genetic disorders.
Abnormal Sperm Morphology (Teratospermia): Morphology is a term which indicates to the shape and structure. Sperms that are abnormally shaped will not be able to fertilize and egg. If 60% of the sperm are in normal size, fertility can be possible. A perfect sperm will be having an oval head with long tail.
Retrograde Ejaculation :
Instead of emerging through the penis during orgasm, sometimes the semen enters the bladderfrom the posterior urethra. This condition is known as retrograde ejaculation. In such condition, sperm quality will be damaged. This condition may be induced due to various reasons, such as:
- A surgery to the lower part of the bladder or prostate
- Surgery or an injury to the spinal cord
- Diabetes and multiple sclerosis
- Certain medications used for enlarged prostate glands, tranquillizers, antipsychotics, blood pressure medications etc. may also cause retrograde ejaculation
Structural Abnormalities :
Fertility can also be affected by any structural abnormalities which may damage or block the tubes, testes or other reproductive structures. It may include:
- Cryptorchidism: It is a condition commonly seen among newborn infants in which the testicles fail to descend from the abdomen into the scrotum.
- Hypospadias: It is a birth defect where the urinary opening is on the other side of the penis. This causes preventing the sperm from reaching the cervix if it is not surgically correct.
- Blockage in the Tubes that Transport Sperm: Some men may have a blockage or other problems in the epididyms or ejaculatory ducts. This may later affect their fertility. Low semen level in the ejaculate is also a problem connected to structural abnormalities in the tubes transporting the sperm.
Hormonal Deficiencies :
Genetic disorders are those conditions which are inherited in an individual from the birth itself. Some of them may impair the fertility of the individual. It may include:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Klinefelters Syndrome
- Kartagener Syndrome etc.