Amongst the most common causes of infertility
in men are low sperm count and poor quality of their sperms or both
together. There can also be a host of other causes behind male infertility
comprising of hormonal imbalance, anatomical problem and genetic disorders.
Each of the cases is briefly described below.
Abnormalities in the Sperm
There can be many reasons that cause sperm
- Result of certain diseases
- Risky exposure to certain
Abnormalities in the sperm are again characterized by
whether the sperm shape, count or movement is affected. The major abnormalities
- Oligospermia – This refers to low sperm count which means that
the man has below 20 million/ml. when the ejaculate is completely devoid
of the presence of sperms, the condition is known as Azoospermia
and is said to the reason behind 10-15% of male infertility cases.
- Asthenospermia – This refers to poor motility of the sperm,
which means that the sperm lacks the ability to move. This can refer to
very slow movement or moving in a jagged line. In both the cases, the
sperm cannot invade the cervical mucous and therefore fail to penetrate
the hard outer cover of the female egg. Poor motility can also pass on
- Teratospermia – This refers to abnormal morphology of the
sperm, which means the shape and structure. The egg cannot be fertilized
by a sperm with an abnormal shape. Ideally it ought to have an oval head
and long tail.
This is a condition brought about by the improper
functioning of the bladder muscles. In such cases the sperm is rather forced in
a backward motion into the bladder instead of a forward motion pushing it out
of the urethra during orgasm. This also impairs the quality of the sperm.
Retrograde ejaculation is caused by –
- If the man has a surgery
done to his prostrate or his lower bladder
- Injury or surgery in the
- Certain drugs used as
tranquilizers, blood pressure medicines. Some variants of antipsychotics
Structural abnormalities in the reproductive structure
include damage or blockage of the testes or tubes. Some common infertility
conditions under this category are –
- Cryptorchidism – This is noticed in newborns where the
testicles do not fall from the abdomen into the scrotum.
- Hypospadias – This is also a birth defect where the urinary
tract opens on the opposite side of the penis. It requires surgical
correction otherwise the sperm will not reach the cervix.
- Blockage in the Tubes Carrying the Sperm – This is a birth
defect where the ejaculatory ducts or epididymis is blocked. Some men may
not even have the vas deferens that carries the sperm from the testicles
to the penis.
GnRH or gonadotropin hormone is responsible for signaling of
the procedure that leads to release of major reproductive hormones like
testosterone. When the GnRH is deficient, the condition is called Hypogonadism
which negatively impacts healthy sperm production. This can be a birth defect
or caused by genetic disorder where the pituitary gland that monitors the
hormones gets affected. This can also happen due to radiation treatments or
from tumors in the brain or pituitary gland.
Male infertility can be caused by genetic factors like –
- Cystic Fibrosis – Here the vas deferens is either missing or
- Polycystic Kidney Disease – Cysts forms in the kidneys or
other neighbouring organs or in the reproductive tract
- Klinefelter Syndrome – When two X and one Y chromosome instead
of the usual one X and one Y, destroys the lining of the seminiferous
tubules within the testicles during adolescence
- Kartagener Syndrome – Here sperm motility is impaired due to
reverse positioning of the vital organs.