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Causes of Male Infertility

Erectile Dysfunction

When a man has trouble getting or maintaining an erection, he will have a difficult time releasing any sperm. Erectile dysfunction and the inability to ejaculate may occur as a result of many underlying causes, including diabetes, prostate surgery, urethra surgery, hypertension and heart disease.

Retrograde Ejaculation

Sometimes sperm moves in the wrong direction. Instead of forward and out through the penis, sperm is transported backwards into the bladder. This condition is known as retrograde ejaculation and it is occurs when the nerves or muscles in the bladder do not work properly. Retrograde ejaculation is more common among men who have diabetes, who have had prostate surgery, or who take certain medications.

Other Causes

There are several other factors that can lead to male infertility. Certain hormonal disorders, such as hyperprolactinemia, hypothyroidism and disorders of the adrenal or pituitary gland, may interfere with sperm production. Types of infections, such as mumps or certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), can cause sterility or low sperm counts. Other diseases, particularly when not controlled, such as diabetes, hypertension and cystic fibrosis, can also cause problems with sperm production, as can injuries to the testicles. In addition, environmental or work hazards and the use of certain medications, steroids, recreational drugs and alcohol can lead to fertility problems in men. In other cases, the cause of a manís infertility cannot be identified, which may point to underlying genetic problems, like an abnormality of the sex chromosomes.


There is a range of treatment options available for the various causes of infertility in men, which include surgery, drug therapy, and assisted reproductive technologies (ART), such as artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF) and gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT). If you and your partner are having fertility issues, it is important that you are both evaluated by a doctor in order to pinpoint the problem and rule out other possible causes. A thorough physical exam and a semen analysis may be able to determine if your partner is the source of the issue. Then, depending on the cause of his infertility, his age, overall health and medical history, the doctor or reproductive endocrinologist will determine the best treatment.

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