What Makes a Man Infertile?
Male infertility, when narrowed all the way down to the bottom line, is based in sperm quality, quantity and motility. It's pretty simple. However, the causes for insufficiency in any of these areas are myriad - with more reasons being discovered regularly. Recently there was some research discussing the effect of soda pop on male fertility, based on a European study of some 2,200 young men in army recruitment.
How are You Living These Days?
Hormonal imbalances, physical problems, psychological and behavioral issues all imply that male fertility has everything to do with a man's overall health. Basically, men who live a healthy lifestyle tend to have healthy sperm. We know that lifestyle choices impact sperm production and you can read in detail about many of them in articles on this site. Below is a list, albeit not all-inclusive, of some negative lifestyle choices that impact male fertility.
· Smoking has been proven to decrease sperm count and motility
· Use of recreational and prescription drugs over a long period of time
· Alcohol abuse
· Anabolic steroid use
· Overdoing it at the gym which causes testosterone deficiency
· Not enough vitamin C and Zinc in the diet
· Tight clothing, particularly underwear
· Hot tubs and hot baths
· Environmental toxin exposure such as pesticides, lead paint, radiation, benzene, heavy metals and others
· Malnutrition and anemia - male anorexia and eating disorders
· Too much stress
Often simple lifestyle changes, dropping old behaviors and adopting new, healthy ones leads to fertility and healthy sperm.
H is for Hormonal
Some male infertility is caused by hormonal problems. In the male anatomy, the hypothalamus-pituitary endocrine system monitors the hormonal links that enable the testes to both produce and disseminate sperm. There are a few things that can go wrong with this system that, in turn, affect a man's fertility.
· An improper release of gonadotrophic-releasing hormone (GnRH) caused by failure of the brain to signal the release. GnRH causes testosterone synthesis and sperm production and if there is no release of the hormone, there is no testosterone stimulation nor sperm production.
· Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulate the testicles and testosterone and sperm production. If the pituitary gland fails to produce enough LH and FSH then the production of testosterone and sperm are negatively affected.
· Leydig cells in the testicles may not produce testosterone when stimulated by LH
· Sometimes a man produces other hormones that run interference with the sex hormone balance.
5 Hormonal Disorders
There are five disorders associated with hormonal problems in men. These disorders cause a disruption in male fertility.
1. Hyperprolactinemia is an elevated level of the hormone prolactin and is found in 10 to 40 percent of infertile males. When levels are only mildly elevated there is no problem, but when the levels are too high then sperm production is reduced, libido is also reduced and impotence may result.
2. Hypothroidism, low thyroid hormone levels, is sometimes caused by a diet high in iodine. This disorder can create poor semen quality, poor testicular function and can affect libido. Thyroid hormone replacement therapy can elevate sperm count.
3. Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia is a condition that results from a suppression of the pituitary gland by high levels of adrenal androgens. Low sperm count, a large number of immature sperm cells and low sperm motility are all symptoms of this disorder. Cortisone replacement therapy is useful in treatment.
4. Hyprogonadotropic Hypopituitarism is the low production and output of LH and FSH by the pituitary gland. This disorder can potentially cause a man to be sterile. It stops sperm development and causes a progressive loss of germ cells that produce sperm and cells that produce testosterone to deteriorate.
5. Panhypopituitafism is the complete failure of the pituitary gland. Growth hormone levels drop as do thyroid-stimulating hormone and LH and FSH levels. Impotence, decreased libido, undersized testes, and loss of secondary sex characteristics are all symptoms of this disorder.
How Physical Issues Impact Fertility
Physical problems are another source of male infertility. They can interfere with sperm production or cause difficulties in the pathway the sperm must journey to exit the body. Low sperm count and abnormal sperm morphology as consistent characteristics of physical problems causing male infertility. Read about many of them on this site.
· Damaged sperm ducts
· Infection and disease
· Klinefelter's syndrome
· Retrograde ejaculation
Psychological and Behavioral Ties
Along with all of the previous possibilities for causes of male infertility, there are also psychological and behavioral issues that cause problems. Often it is difficult to divide the physical from the psychological components because they are so intrinsically tied together.
· Erectile Dysfunction affects 20 million men in the US and results from a combination of factors.
· Premature Ejaculation is the inability to control the ejaculatory response
· Ejaculatory incompetence prevents men from ejaculating during sexual intercourse even though they can ejaculate when masturbating
Most, if not all of the issues, conditions and problems cited here can be addressed by a skilled medical professional.