Infertility is a disorder faced by about 15% of the couples in the world today. About half of this is due to male infertility. Reports show that about 7% of men have fertility issues. The issues of infertility develop when a couple is not able to conceive even after 12 months or more of repeated unprotected intercourse. Infertility in most cases is curable with good, systematic treatment.
Male fertility is considered to be a complex process. In order to be fertile, a male should be able to produce a healthy sperm. This involves the complete growth of the reproductive organ since puberty. Also, for production of testosterone and other hormones that induce sperm production, at least one of the testicles should be fully developed. Once developed, the sperm should mix with semen. Sperm count and mobility are important factors affecting fertility. Anything lower than 15 million per every millilitre of semen is considered as low sperm count.
The reasons of infertility in men are often related to hormonal imbalance which leads to decreased sperm count and functions. The dilating of veins around the testicle area is also known to reduce fertility by creating a blockage against the movement of sperm. Hereditary factors play a role in this disorder as well. These irregularities produce some physical signs that can be recognised if observed carefully.
The main symptom of male infertility is obviously the inability to create a child with a fully fertile partner. Some of them are swelling or pain in the testicles, erectile dysfunction and difficulty in ejaculation. Other physical symptoms include inability to smell, recurring respiratory issues, decrease in the growth of body and facial hair, and abnormal breast growth. It is advisable to consult a doctor if he above symptoms occur. Men who have undergone groin, scrotum, penis or testicle surgery are at a higher risk of infertility.
The causes of infertility can either be physical, environmental or due to a particular lifestyle. The medical or physical reasons of male infertility are varicocele (dilation of veins in testicles, effectively blocking sperm movement), infections affection sperm production, tumours, ejaculation issues, presence of anti-sperm antibodies, hormone imbalances, chromosome defects, celiac disease (a digestive disorder) and prior surgeries. Certain medicines also hamper fertility.
The exposure to certain factors in environment such as toxins, chemicals and heat can affect the sperm production. The main environmental causes of male infertility are exposure to heavy metal like lead, over exposure to chemicals like herbicide, pesticides, organic solvents, compounds of benzene and paint material, over exposure of heat to pelvic area and exposure to radiations or X-rays.
The lifestyle and health causes of infertility includes heavy alcohol and drug use. These are known to cause erectile dysfunction and sperm count reduction. Weight and emotional stress contributes to this as well. The lifestyle choices of today are known to affect fertility. Sitting for long periods of time, wearing tight clothes like jeans and using laptops by placing them on lap are all known to increase the chances of infertility.