Women tend to blame themselves for their fertility issues, but male factor infertility (when the man’s reproductive system is part of the problem) is the source of approximately 40–50 percent of all infertility cases, according to a review in the Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences.
There are many factors that can contribute to male infertility, such as structural abnormalities of the male reproductive system (including but not limited to the sperm itself), sperm production disorders, ejaculatory disturbances, and immunologic disorders, explains Aaron K. Styer, M.D., reproductive endocrinologist and co-medical director of CCRM Boston. Some causes of infertility in men include:
A varicocele is swelling of one or several of the veins that drain the testicle. Although the exact way that varicoceles cause male infertility is unknown, it may be related to abnormal testicular temperature regulation. Varicoceles may result in reduced sperm quality.
Some infections can interfere with sperm production and sperm health, or cause scarring that blocks the passage of sperm. These include inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis) or testicles (orchitis) and some sexually transmitted infections, like gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen enters the bladder during orgasm instead of emerging out the tip of the penis. Various health conditions can cause retrograde ejaculation, including diabetes, spinal injuries, medications, and surgery of the bladder, prostate, or urethra.
Antibodies That Attack Sperm
Anti-sperm antibodies are immune system cells that mistakenly identify sperm as harmful invaders and attempt to eliminate them. In men, these anti-sperm antibodies might develo pafter an infection in the prostate or an injury to the testes that that triggers an immune response.