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Male infertility

Male infertility
Classification & external resources
ICD-10 N46.
ICD-9 606
DiseasesDB 7772
MedlinePlus 001191
eMedicine med/3535  med/1167
MeSH D007248

Male infertility is a term that refers to infertility in male humans.

Male infertility is involved in a sexually paired couple's inability to conceive in a significant number of cases, with estimates ranging from 40-50%. [1][2][3]



Factors relating only to male infertility include[4]:

Pretesticular causes

  • Hypogonadism due to various causes
  • Drugs, alcohol, smoking
  • Strenuous riding (Bicycle riding,[5] Horseback riding)

Testicular factors

Testicular factors of male infertility include:

  • Bad semen quality
    • Abnormal sperm morphology
    • oligospermia
    • Azoospermia (complete lack of sperm in semen, can be due to scar tissue in testicle)

Factors that, in turn, affect the semen quality include:

Posttesticular causes


The diagnosis of infertility begins with a medical history and physical exam by a urologist, preferably one with experience or who specializes in male infertility. The provider may order blood tests to look for hormone imbalances or disease. A semen sample will be needed. Blood tests may indicate genetic causes.


In the majority of cases of male infertility and low sperm quality, no clear cause can be identified with current diagnostic methods.

Medical history

The cornerstone of the male partner evaluation is the history. It should note the duration of infertility, earlier pregnancies with present or past partners, and whether there was previous difficulty with conception.

The history should include prior testicular (penis) insults (torsion, cryptorchidism, trauma), infections (mumps orchitis, epididymitis), environmental factors (excessive heat, radiation, chemotherapy), medications (anabolic steroids, cimetidine, and spironolactone may affect spermatogenesis; phenytoin may lower FSH; sulfasalazine and nitrofurantoin affect sperm motility), and drug use (alcohol, smoking, marijuana).

Sexual habits, frequency and timing of intercourse, use of lubricants, and each partner's previous fertility experiences are important.

Loss of libido and headaches or visual disturbances may indicate a pituitary tumor.

The past medical or surgical history may reveal thyroid or liver disease (abnormalities of spermatogenesis), diabetic neuropathy (retrograde ejaculation), radical pelvic or retroperitoneal surgery (absent seminal emission secondary to sympathetic nerve injury), or hernia repair (damage to the vas deferens or testicular blood supply).

Physical examination

A complete examination of the infertile male is important to identify general health issues associated with infertility. For example, the patient should be adequately virilized; signs of decreased body hair or gynecomastia may suggest androgen deficiency.

The scrotal contents should be carefully palpated with the patient standing. As it is often psychologically uncomfortable for men to be examined, one helpful hint is to make the examination as efficient and as matter of fact as possible.

The peritesticular area should also be examined. Irregularities of the epididymis, located posterior-lateral to the testis, include induration, tenderness, or cysts.

Sperm sample

Main article: semen quality

The volume of the semen is measured, as well as the number of sperm in the sample. How well the sperm move is also assessed. This is the most common type of fertility testing[10].

Blood sample

A blood sample can reveal genetic causes of infertility, e.g. a Y chromosome microdeletion, cystic fibrosis.


Some strategies suggested or proposed for avoiding male infertility include the following:


In cases of posttesticular causes, infertility may often be treated surgically. However, for sperm quality causes, e.g. oligospermia, there is no effective medication[13]. Still, IVF or even ICSI may be an alternative.[13]


  1. ^ Men's Health - Male Factor Infertility. Retrieved on 2007-11-21.
  2. ^ Brugh VM, Lipshultz LI (2004). "Male factor infertility: evaluation and management". Med. Clin. North Am. 88 (2): 367–85. doi:10.1016/S0025-7125(03)00150-0. PMID 15049583.
  3. ^ Hirsh A (2003). "Male subfertility". BMJ 327 (7416): 669–72. doi:10.1136/bmj.327.7416.669. PMID 14500443.
  4. ^ Rowe PJ, Comhaire FH, Hargreave TB, Mahmoud AMA. WHO Manual for the Standardized Investigation, Diagnosis and Management of the Infertile Male. Cambridge University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-521-77474-8.
  5. ^ Leibovitch I, Mor Y (2005). "The vicious cycling: bicycling related urogenital disorders". Eur. Urol. 47 (3): 277–86; discussion 286–7. doi:10.1016/j.eururo.2004.10.024. PMID 15716187.
  6. ^ Infertility in men. Retrieved on 2007-11-21.
  7. ^ Costabile RA, Spevak M (2001). "Characterization of patients presenting with male factor infertility in an equal access, no cost medical system". Urology 58 (6): 1021–4. PMID 11744480.
  8. ^ Masarani M, Wazait H, Dinneen M (2006). "Mumps orchitis". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 99 (11): 573–5. doi:10.1258/jrsm.99.11.573. PMID 17082302.
  9. ^ Zhang J, Qiu SD, Li SB, et al (2007). "Novel mutations in ubiquitin-specific protease 26 gene might cause spermatogenesis impairment and male infertility". Asian J. Androl. 9 (6): 809–14. doi:10.1111/j.1745-7262.2007.305.x. PMID 17968467.
  10. ^ Fertility Testing
  11. ^ Gaur DS, Talekar M, Pathak VP (2007). "Effect of cigarette smoking on semen quality of infertile men". Singapore medical journal 48 (2): 119–23. PMID 17304390.
  12. ^ Goyal A, Delves GH, Chopra M, Lwaleed BA, Cooper AJ (2006). "Prostate cells exposed to lycopene in vitro liberate lycopene-enriched exosomes". BJU Int. 98 (4): 907–11. doi:10.1111/j.1464-410X.2006.06434.x. PMID 16978292.
  13. ^ a b
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Male_infertility". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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