Statistics say that up to 15% of couples are infertile. This means that even though they have had frequent unprotected sexual intercourse for a year or longer, they are unable to conceive a child. Male infertility can play a role in up to half of these cases. It can be very stressful and frustrating for both partners involved when you are unable to conceive a child.


Although other symptoms besides being unable to conceive a child usually go unnoticed, they include:

  • Problems with sexual function — for example, difficulty with ejaculation or small volumes of fluid ejaculated, reduced sexual desire or difficulty maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Pain, swelling, or a lump in the testicle area
  • Recurrent respiratory infections
  • Inability to smell
  • Abnormal breast growth (gynecomastia)
  • 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)


Several things must occur to get your partner pregnant:

  • You must produce healthy sperm
  • Sperm has to be carried into the semen
  • There needs to be enough sperm in the semen
  • Sperm must be functional and able to move

 Some medical causes include:

  • Infection
  • Ejaculation issues
  • Antibodies that attack sperm
  • Tumors
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Problems with sexual intercourse
  • Certain medications
  • Prior surgeries
  • Environmental causes:
  • Industrial chemicals
  • Heavy metal exposure
  • Radiation or X-rays
  • Overheating the testicles

Health, lifestyle, and other reasons:

  • Illicit drug use
  • Alcohol use
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Emotional stress
  • Weight

Risk Factors

  • Smoking tobacco
  • Using alcohol
  • Using certain illegal drugs
  • Being overweight
  • Having particular past or present infections
  • Being exposed to toxins
  • Overheating the testicles
  • Having experienced trauma to the testicles
  • Having a prior vasectomy or major abdominal or pelvic surgery
  • Having a history of undescended testicles
  • Being born with a fertility disorder or having a blood relative with a fertility disorder
  • Having certain medical conditions, including tumors and chronic illnesses, such as sickle cell disease
  • Taking certain medications or undergoing medical treatments, such as surgery or radiation used for treating cancer


In most cases, the cause of infertility can’t be identified. Possible treatments that your doctor may recommend are surgery, treatment for infections, and treatments for sexual intercourse problems. Male infertility can’t be treated in rare cases. When this happens, considering your options is beneficial such as adopting or using sperm from a donor.


Many types of male infertility can’t be prevented, but you can avoid some known causes:

  • Don't smoke
  • Limit or abstain from alcohol
  • Steer clear of illicit drugs
  • Keep the weight off
  • Don't get a vasectomy
  • Avoid things that lead to prolonged heat for the testicles
  • Reduce stress
  • Avoid exposure to pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins