Analogy: Ok guys we all have heard the term shooting blanks and for the longest we may have chuckled at the thought of this being an actual problem. This can be a living expensive nightmare for the man dealing with it. The medical term for “shooting blanks” is male infertility.
Yes guys this is a problem that affects us men. When a couple cannot have a child there is a quick assumption that it is the woman fault. Facts say that there is a 33% chance the problem can be traced back to the male partner. As a Man of Health we need to have this discussion about Male Infertility.
What is Male Infertility???
Male Infertility is the inability of a male to produce enough sperm to get a woman pregnant.
What causes Male Infertility???
- Warning Big Medical Term…Idiopathic (fancy word for doctors which means I do not know). 40-50% of causes are idiopathic. Other causes can be attributed to testicular failure which leads to low testosterone levels. Low test levels= low sperm count.
- Varicocele: Present in 20% of all males. A varicocele is the abnormal twisting and dilation of vessels in the scrotum. Medical providers describe the look as a “bag of worms”. The increased blood flow from the abnormally twisted and dilated blood vessels cause the testicles to be warm. The elevated temperature causes the sperm to die.
- Drugs and toxins: Yes certain pharmaceutical drugs can cause male infertility but always consult with your physician before starting or stopping a medication. Alcohol, tobacco and passive smoking (being with someone who smokes), cocaine, steroids, and marijuana (weed) all cause male infertility.
- Exposure to Heat: Remember I discussed heat kills sperm. Sitting in a sauna for too long and hot tubs cause male infertility. Laptops can cause infertility problems related to heat so do not place that laptop on your lap for too long.
- Chromosome abnormalities: Some people are born with chromosome issues that can result in the inability to conceive.
- Radiation and chemo therapy: Men who have to undergo chemo therapy can have fertility issues as a result. Chemotherapy in simple terms kills cells in the body to restart the process of healing. So a man who has undergone chemotherapy may temporarily lose the ability to conceive. Localized radiation near or at the testicles will cause sperm to die. This effect could be temporary or a lifetime issue.
- Orchitis: Orchitis is inflammation of the testicles. Inflammation of the testicles is usually due to an infection. Orchitis can be caused by mumps or a sexually transmitted disease. Treating orchitis with the appropriate antibiotic should help improve fertility.
How will I know if I suffer from male infertility?
See men is all about your semen. Yes that was an attempt at a joke. But There will be semen analysis is needed to check your fertility level. Your provider will send your semen off to look at how many sperm you have. If he thinks a low sperm count may be the problem he may consult a specialist.
What do I do next??
If you are found to have a low semen count you will be referred to a male fertility clinic. At this clinic they will discuss your options; invitro or hormonal agents. Always consult with your provider before starting any treatment for low sperm count.
There have been studies that show promise for antioxidants (zinc, vitamin c, l carnitine) but research is still on going.
Remember before starting any supplement or vitamin to sit down and discuss it with your provider.