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Infertility and Men

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Other Factors in Male Infertility

  • Excessive exercise; studies have shown that exercising too much may lead to the release of too many steroid hormones. This can affect fertility.
  • Stress
  • Obesity
  • Use of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco; smoking tobacco, using drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, and taking steroids can reduce sperm counts.
  • Exposure to toxins and environmental hazards; pesticides, lead, radiation, radioactive substances, mercury, and heavy metals may affect fertility.
  • Heat; although the effect is usually temporary, high temperatures in the testicles could reduce sperm production. High heat could result from wearing clothing that's too tight and traps heat, frequent bike riding, or by taking too many hot baths or saunas.

Getting Pregnant With Male Infertility

If you're a guy who has been diagnosed with infertility, you should talk to your doctor about any behavorial changes you can make that might increase your chances of conceiving.

If your sperm count is low, your doctor may recommend having intercourse less frequently in order to build up a better concentration of sperm. You should also ask about taking vitamins. Some recent studies have found that men can improve their low sperm counts by taking a combination of a folic acid and zinc.

If you have abnormal hormone levels, your doctor may recommend hormone treatment.

If you have retrograde ejaculation, you can often treat this with common over-the-counter cold medicine.

In some cases where the man has mild infertility, artificial insemination or other assisted reproduction techniques, such as GIFT and ZIFT, may be helpful. One exciting treatment for male infertility and low sperm count is a form of micromanipulation called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). This is a laboratory procedure in which sperm and eggs are retrieved from both partners, and then a single sperm is injected into an egg. The fertilized egg is then implanted into the woman's uterus.

If the man doesn't have sperm in his semen, one of several techniques can be used to retrieve sperm from the testicles. Success rates are generally good -- as high as 65% in some clinics. But factors such as poor sperm quality, poor egg quality, and the older age of the mother can lessen the chance of success. Other techniques that might help men with fertility problems are being developed.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Trina Pagano, MD on July 22, 2012
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