FAQ’s About Male Infertility

What diseases can cause male factor infertility?

A variety of diseases – from kidney disease to testicular cancer – can result in male infertility. For instance, systemic conditions and metabolic disorders, along with ordinary fevers and infections, can impair the development of sperm. In addition, sexually transmitted diseases can lead to obstruction and scarring of the reproductive tract while genetic conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, may result in lack of sperm due to missing vas deferens or seminal vesicles. Since any number of illnesses can be a factor, it is essential that both you and your partner know and share your family and personal medical histories with your doctor.

Can cigarette smoke affect semen?

Yes. Research has shown that regular smoking impacts the sperm in a variety of ways. It decreases the size and movement of these cells and damages their DNA content. Smoking also can impact the seminal fluid, ejaculated with the sperm.

Can the use of steroids for body building cause infertility?

Yes. Steroids taken either by mouth or injection can shut down the production of hormones needed for sperm production.

Do abnormal semen analyses or sperm lead to children with birth defects?

Not necessarily. For the majority of couples seeking fertility treatment, the risk of conceiving a child with a birth defect is the same as the general population. Though, some disorders (especially genetic disorders) that cause infertility may also cause an increased risk of conceiving a child with birth defects. It is for this reason that couples need thorough evaluation and counseling prior to proceeding with some forms of assisted reproductive techniques.

What is the most important thing I should remember about male infertility?

Neither you nor your partner should be blamed for any problems you have with fertility. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) estimates that roughly one-third of infertility cases can be attributed to male factors, with another one-third due to women. In the remaining one-third of infertile couples, infertility is caused by either a combination of factors, or, in 20 percent of cases, is still unexplained. (In men, few or no sperm is the biggest problem; in women, the common problems are ovulation disorders and blocked tubes.) But today, physicians have the technology and surgical tools to address many of those problems.