Male infertility

Approximately 15 percent of couples are infertile. This means they aren't able to conceive a child even though they've had frequent, unprotected sexual intercourse for a year or longer. In about half of these couples, male infertility plays a role.

Male infertility is due to low sperm production, abnormal sperm function or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm. Illnesses, injuries, chronic health problems, lifestyle choices and other factors can play a role in causing male infertility.

Not being able to conceive a child can be stressful and frustrating, but a number of male infertility treatments are available.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

The main sign of male infertility is the inability to conceive a child. There may be no other obvious signs or symptoms. In some cases, however, an underlying problem such as an inherited disorder, hormonal imbalance, dilated veins around the testicle, or a condition that blocks the passage of sperm may cause signs and symptoms. Male infertility signs and symptoms may include:

  • The inability to conceive a child
  • Problems with sexual function — for example, difficulty with ejaculation, reduced sexual desire or difficulty maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicle area
  • Recurrent respiratory infections
  • Decreased facial or body hair or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality
  • Having a lower than normal sperm count (fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen or a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculate)

When to see a doctor

See a doctor if you:

  • Are unable to conceive a child after a year of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse
  • Have erection or ejaculation problems, low sex drive, or other problems with sexual function
  • Have pain, discomfort, a lump or swelling in the testicle area
  • Have a history of testicle, prostate or sexual problems
  • Have had groin, testicle, penis or scrotum surgery

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