A male reproductive system mainly consists of testes, a network of ducts or tubes and glands that produce hormones that helps the balance of these organs. These glands located at the base of brain, namely pituitary and hypothalamus, influences the production of sperm and male hormones. The main pituitary hormones that influence the function of testes are the FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) and LH (Luteinizing Hormone). Testes produces testosterone and sperm. It takes about 70 days for it to develop and another 2 to 10 days to mature.
During the process of intercourse, the sperm along with semen (liquid which helps movement of sperm) move out of the testes through the vas deference into the penis through the urethra and ejaculates out. Prostate and seminal vesicles contribute fluid that protects the sperm. The sperm in the ejaculated semen penetrates the egg, fertilising it leading to the formation of zygote. An interruption in any of the processes mentioned above leads to infertility issues. Some of the main causes attributed to infertility in men are: -
Contributing to about 40% of male infertility and affecting about 15% of men around the wold, varicocele is a swelling of veins around the testicles. This causes a decrease of circulation in the testicular area. This leads to a rise in a body temperature leading to a decrease in sperm count. Surgical procedures are used to correct the disorder and remove the engorged the veins.
The main ejaculation disorder seen in male infertility is retrograde ejaculation. Here, the semen enters the bladder instead of being ejaculated out during an orgasm. Spinal injuries, diabetes, surgeries on urethra and prostate are said to cause retrograde ejaculation. In some cases of men with spinal injuries, semen is not ejaculation is not possible. Such people can conceive with the help of assisted reductive techniques where sperm can be retrieved.
Infections are said to affect the sperm producing capability in some men. Inflammations in testicles and epididymis, sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea, and scarring the affects the passage of sperm are some of the major infections affecting male infertility.
Undescended testicles is a disorder faced by some where during the foetal development, one or both testicles fail to descend from the abdomen into the sac or scrotum.
Immune system cells, also known as antibodies, mistake sperms to be foreign bodies and attacks them effectively killing them. This leads to a deficiency in sperm count.
Defects in tubular sperm transport
These develop as a result of blockage in the tubes that transport the sperm. This can develop because of abnormal development, trauma, prior surgeries or as a case of inherited disorders. Blockages can occur in any part of the male reproductive system.
Cancer and other non-cancerous tumours can affect fertility. They hamper the production of hormones from the pituitary gland. Treatments including radiations, chemotherapy and some other medications can also affect fertility.
In addition to these certain environmental factors such as over exposure to heat and chemicals affect male fertility. Life style is a main contributor to infertility as well.