• Factors that can cause infertility in men

    1.       Sexually Transmitted Infections – Bacterial STIs such as Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia can cause infertility in men. Chlamydia can infect the prostate of the man resulting in swelling and thus restricting the amount of blood that flows to the penis. As you may be aware, flow of blood to the penis is important to achieve an erection.   If the symptoms are noticed and treated on time, both the infections can be completely cured. Make sure that your partner also gets tested and treated for the same.

    2.       Birth Defects – If the tubes carrying semen out of the penis are not well formed due to any problem since birth or if the testicles, prostate or urethra have problems that can result in infertility of the person once he grows up.  Surgery may be the only option most of the times but in some cases, even surgery will not be able to help.

    3.       Autoimmune problems – The immune system mistake the sperms to foreign bodies and starts attacking them. Consequently, the sperms are damaged and they become incapable of swimming to the egg and fertilizing it.

    4.       Retrograde Ejaculation – Men suffering from this ejaculatory dysfunction problem will not be able to ejaculate any sperms. The semen instead of coming out of the penis enters the bladder. This can be due to problems with the prostate or the bladder.

    5.       Hormonal imbalances – Problems with thyroid gland can result in over or under production of T4 hormones. This can result in infertility. Treatment involves substituting the hormones with synthetic hormones.

    6.       Erectile Dysfunction problem – Difficulty in getting or sustaining an erection by a man is called Erectile Dysfunction.  When no erection is seen, it becomes difficult to have penetrative sex and impregnate his female partner.  Antidepressant medications can lead to erection problems. Talk to your sexologist if you are on any such medication.

    7.       Premature Ejaculation – Men suffering from this condition may ejaculate even before the actual penetration. Some may ejaculate within a minute of penetration.  When the semen is ejaculated before penetration, it is nearly not possible to impregnate a woman.  Premature ejaculation is very common and can be due to psychological or physical problems. Stress, performance anxiety can lead to premature ejaculation.

    8.       Varicocele – Enlargement of veins on the scrotum prevents blood from flowing normally to the testes.   This can also lead to infertility in men.

    9.       Stress, Over-exercise, obesity, excessive intake of alcohol, drugs, steroids, and smoking – any of these can result in improper functioning of male reproductive system leading to infertility.

    Dr. Karthik Gunasekaran, sexologist, urologist in Chennai.

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