Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Men's Health

Font Size

Infertility: It's Not My Fault

Why do men have such a hard time accepting a low sperm count?


In Tom's case the tests revealed two pieces of bad news.. First, his sperm count was only 10 million, making him statistically infertile. What's more, an analysis of his microscopic swimmers showed a high percentage of malformations. His Neiman-Marcus body, it seemed, was pumping out Kmart-quality sperm.

Eventually, Tom was diagnosed with a common cause of low sperm quality -- varicoceles of the veins of the testicles (similar to varicose veins of the legs). When one or more of the veins becomes inflamed, Lipshultz explains, the valves get worn out, forcing blood to run in the wrong direction -- into the testicles instead of away.

As blood overheats the testicles, the overly warm temperatures damage or destroy sperm cells. Sperm thrive in temperatures several degrees cooler than body temperature, which is why the testicles are housed in the scrotum. It's also why doctors tell men who are trying to conceive to stay out of hot tubs (as well as quit drinking and smoking). "Nicotine, alcohol, and over-heating are toxic to sperm," says Lipshultz.

Luckily, in the case of varicoceles, doctors can tie off the damaged veins. After the procedure, which requires anesthesia but can be done at outpatient clinics, about 70% of patients show improved sperm count and quality. Of these, 40% go on to become fathers.

Happily, Tom was among the lucky 40%. His long and sometimes embarrassing odyssey from gynecologist's office to the operating table was never easy. But he got a wonderful reward for his efforts: a beautiful 6 pound, 2 ounce, baby girl.

Michael Alvear is an Atlanta-based writer. Besides WebMD and other publications, his work has been published in The Los Angeles Times and the Internet magazine

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore.
man swinging in hammock
And how to get out it.
shaving tools
On your shaving skills.
muscular man flexing
Four facts that matter.
Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
Thoughtful man sitting on bed
Man taking blood pressure
doctor holding syringe
Condom Quiz
man running
older couple in bed