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Some Lesser-Known Causes of Male Infertility

May 22, 2013

Every year, one in six couples will struggle with infertility.

At The Urology Group, we define infertility as being unable to conceive after one year of regular, unprotected intercourse. The good news is only 1 to 2 percent of couples deemed infertile are actually sterile, and half of those who seek help can eventually bear a child.

Male-related problems account for 30 to 50 percent of infertility cases. Though most commonly caused by sperm disorders such as low sperm count, male infertility can also result from several diseases, lifestyle choices and environmental factors. Some of the least-talked about causes of male infertility are often some of the most avoidable. Here are some examples:

Mumps

One side effect of mumps, seen in roughly 20 percent of patients with the virus, is inflamed testes. The swelling can lead to fertility issues if damage to sperm-producing cells occurs. Infertility from mumps is preventable with responsible vaccination.

Marijuana

Studies have shown that repeated use of the recreational drug can deplete sperm count and might also negatively affect sperm quality, both of which can cause infertility. Smoking cigarettes can also lead to decreased fertility.

Stress

Severe emotional stress can wreak havoc on sperm count not to mention one’s overall health. Elevated stress levels have been shown to interfere with certain hormones needed to produce sperm.

Celiac disease

Undiagnosed, the digestive disorder characterized by gluten sensitivity can negatively affect male fertility.  Studies have shown that sperm characteristics and hormone levels improved after men adopted gluten-free diets.

Couples concerned about their ability to conceive should visit their physicians. I recommend that the male partner of the infertile couple be evaluated first because testing is often less invasive and easier for men than women.

One in six may sound like a fairly high number, but even if you are diagnosed as infertile, it does not mean you must face a life without children. There are several treatments, from medicine to surgery, that can help in adding a little one to your life. Your doctor can advise on the best options for you.

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