Top 5 Male Health Issues that Affect Infertility

Male factor infertility plays a role in why many couples chose to adopt.

Sarah M. Baker June 04, 2015

When I met my husband, I had previously been married and had one biological son from that marriage. I had my male son young, before I knew the extent of my own infertility. My pregnancy was plagued with many challenges, and delivery made it clear that it may be unsafe or maybe even impossible for me to have more children, male or female. I thought it was only fair to share that information with my future husband early in our courtship. He seemed okay with the news and was quick to say we could adopt one day if we got to that point in our relationship.

We were soon married and years went by and our desire to build a family grew. Our desire to have another child became stronger than I had ever imagined. I began to feel the pain of letting my husband down because I may not be able to give him a biological child. Although adoption was still very much on the table, the fear of all the unknowns, including the cost associated with it, prevented us from quickly moving forward. So we spent a few years trying to conceive. I had been diagnosed with several things that limited my chances to become pregnant, but we had a sliver of hope. Finally our doctor decided to test my husband as well. The testing concluded that he, too, was suffering from infertility. If he was ever deeply hurt by that news, it went quietly. He took the news in stride, and we focused solely on adoption.

Like my husband, many men suffer from infertility. In order for a male to do his part in baby-making, the production of sperm is necessary. The movement of the male sperm into the semen is essential. The quantity and quality of male sperm is important. Many things play a role in sperm production and movement. Is male infertility something that has brought you to adoption?

Here is a list of the top causes of male infertility:

1. Varicocele

While there are many medical factors that lead to infertility, one of the most common causes of male infertility is the presence of a varicocele. A varicocele is a swelling of the veins inside one or both testicles. The increased blood flow often heats the sperm and reduces the count or makes them either immobile or deformed. With a varicocele, there is a chance that surgical treatment can reverse infertility. However, surgery does not always restore fertility and the varicocele could potentially return.

Heath Factors
2. Heath Factors

Whether it’s a current infection, a tumor, anti-bodies attacking sperm, undescended testicles, hormone imbalances, sperm duct defects, ejaculation problems, celiac disease, medications or prior surgeries, it can often take doctors a long time to diagnose the cause of male infertility. When you are trying to grow your family and you are stuck without answers, it can be very frustrating.

Childhood Illness
3. Childhood Illness

Childhood illness is an underlying cause of infertility that can often be difficult to identify in an adult. Mumps and high fevers during developmental years often are the top offenders of male infertility

Environmental Factors
4. Environmental Factors

Environmental factors can also lead to male infertility. Heavy metal exposure, toxins like industrial chemicals, exposure to radiation, or frequent overheating of the testicles can also lead to infertility.

5. Lifestyle

Lifestyle choices can also lead to infertility. Using illegal drugs, smoking, drinking excessive alcohol, having a high stress occupation, or emotional stress can also lead to failure of your reproductive organs.

Prevention of Male Infertility
6. Prevention of Male Infertility

While most cases of infertility are genetic, there are a few steps a man can take to improve his chances of being fertile.
- Avoiding illegal drugs and alcohol.
- Stopping (or not starting) smoking.
- Considering the pros and cons of new prescription medications.
- Avoiding high temperatures like hot tubs, saunas, and other prolonged exposure to heat.
- Practicing safe sex to prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Treating any STDs immediately.
- Eating a well-balanced diet.
- Exercising regularly.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Lowering stress.

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Sarah M. Baker

Sarah is a Staff Storyteller for and passionate about teaching others the power of open adoption. She is very active in the adoption community, where she spends a lot of time advocating as the founder of Heart For Open Adoption. She is the mom of two boys in addition to parenting her niece. She is a mother biologically and through domestic infant open adoption. Sarah promotes adoption education and ethical adoptions. She and her husband were featured on Season 2 of Oxygen’s “I’m Having Their Baby,” which tells the story of their first adoption match failing. Sarah hopes to bring her personal experience to you and help anyone who wants more information about adoption to find it with ease. Though it was once a taboo subject, Sarah hopes to make adoption something people are no longer afraid to talk about. You can learn more about Sarah and her family on her blog.

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