Infertility: Problems With the Man's Reproductive System

Infertility: Problems With the Man's Reproductive System

Topic Overview

The most common cause of male infertility is low sperm count. Absence of sperm in the semen is less common, affecting 1 out of 100 men and affecting 10 to 15 out of 100 infertile men.footnote 1

Causes of sperm count problems include:

  • Hormonal problems in the testicles or pituitary gland. The pituitary gland releases hormones that stimulate the testicles to produce testosterone.
  • Testicular injury or failure, either present at birth (congenital) or associated with radiation or toxic chemical exposure.
  • Cancer treatment with certain kinds of chemotherapy or radiation.
  • Antibodies that attack sperm and that also may be present in semen. Sperm antibodies sometimes develop when a man's sperm has been exposed to his immune system (outside of the testicles). This may happen after a vasectomy, an infection, or an injury to the testicles.footnote 2
  • Drug use (some prescription medicines, and marijuana and tobacco use).
  • Structural problems. These include:
    • A varicocele in the testicles.
    • Blocked ejaculation due to a surgical vasectomy.
    • Absence of a vas deferens (a birth defect that may be associated with the cystic fibrosis genes).
    • Retrograde ejaculation (the ejaculation of semen into the bladder rather than out through the penis).
  • Chromosomal problems (such as Klinefelter syndrome).
  • Genetic problems.

See a picture of the male reproductive system.

Related Information

    References

    Citations

    1. American Society for Reproductive Medicine and Society for Male Reproduction and Urology (2008). Evaluation of the azoospermic male. Fertility and Sterility, 90(Suppl 5): S74–S77.
    2. Fritz MA, Speroff L (2011). Male infertility. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 8th ed., pp. 1249–1292. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

    Credits

    Current as ofSeptember 5, 2018

    Author: Healthwise Staff
    Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
    Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
    Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC, FACOG - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology

    Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.

    Find a Doctor

    Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.

    View Doctors

    Set Your Location

    Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.