Men’s health

What is male infertility and what causes it

November 4, 2022
Lizzie Hayes

Fertility issues can impact anyone, no matter how much we may try to ignore them or pretend something is nothing. Although studies have shown that 40% of men have never thought about testing their fertility, 25% of infertility challenges are found to be because of male factors. This could be due to a low sperm count, a low sperm motility or poor morphology of the sperm itself,

Whether you're in a heterosexual couple looking to have a baby, a man looking to go down the road of solo parenting or if

If you're a man looking to have a baby on your own but by using your sperm, or if you're in a relationship with another man and looking to use either of your sperm to have a baby, checking your fertility is very important.

Symptoms of male infertility

Whilst the World Health Organization (WHO) has defined infertility as a medical condition, there are often no typical or outright symptoms. Nevertheless, there may be some signs to look out for, particularly if there are other medical conditions or hormone fluctuations at play. According to Bupa, some of the physical signs to look out for are:

- Pain and/or swelling in your testicles

- Prominent veins in your testicle

- Problems getting or keeping an erection

- Blood in your semen

- Pain when ejaculating

- Trouble ejaculating during sex

- Cloudy urine after sex

Other symptoms that seem unrelated to fertility may include:

- Mood changes

- Weight gain

- Lower sex drive (libido) than usual

- Less facial hair growth

What to do if you have no symptoms, but you're still struggling to conceive

If you don’t have any of the symptoms, yet you and your partner have been unable to conceive, we would recommend further investigating your sperm quality with one a home testing kit. We work with some brilliant companies to provide our patients with these sperm testing kits.

Remember: some couples may take more than a year to conceive naturally. After trying to conceive unsuccessfully for over a year, many couple would view fertility treatment, such as IVF, as their only option. However, this is never an easy decision to make - thinking about which hospital or fertility clinic to go with, numerous investigations, possible expenses and the emotional strain. We’re here to tell you that fertility treatment isn’t always your only option!

There are various other things to try or consider before you go down that route. Here are some tips and tricks that may help you get there.

Think about your diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle play a massive part in one’s fertility, yet these factors are rarely considered when someone is trying to conceive. Everyone’s body works differently, so we would suggest speaking to a Nutritional Therapists in the first instance to scope out your current diet and lifestyle and then talk through some of the steps you could take to boost your fertility.

Try to avoid heat

Your scrotum houses your testicles and resides outside your body to ensure they are kept below your normal body temperature.  If your scrotum is too warm, this may reduce sperm quality. Several things can cause your scrotum to overheat, for example:

- Working in hot conditions

- Driving for extended periods

- Using a laptop that is placed on your lap

- Having hot baths or saunas

- Tight-fitting underwear

- Keeping a mobile phone in your (front or back) trouser pocket (radiation emits heat)

Review your medication

If you’re taking medication for another health problem, keep in mind that some drugs can affect your fertility – for example:

- Sulfasalazine (taken for rheumatoid arthritis or long-term inflammation) may affect sperm quality

- Antidepressants and some high blood pressure drugs can affect ejaculation

If you’re taking any medication, please make sure you read the medicine information and speak to your GP or pharmacist about possible alternatives, or if you have any concerns

Assisted Reproduction

If you choose to go ahead with fertility treatment, book in a consultation with a specialised fertility doctors to go through options and next steps. At Fertifa, we partner with the best fertility clinics in the UK to provide treatment and care for all kinds of fertility journeys.

Treatment is possible in almost all cases of male infertility, and may include treatment such as an intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). This is the most common medical intervention in cases where male factor fertility is an issue.

Introduced in the 1990s, it has revolutionised fertility treatment for men with poor sperm quality or low sperm counts. The technique involves injecting a single sperm cell into an egg.  Fertilisation is generally around 90%, so many clinics use ICSI to guarantee fertilisation. Recently, some clinics have further enhanced the ICSI protocol by selecting the best sperm cell for fertilisation.

There's also testicular sperm extraction (TESE). In rare cases of male infertility where normal sperm production or sperm ejaculation may be prevented by an obstruction in the testicular tubes, TESE is a surgical process can help retrieve sperm from the testes, later used during ICSI.

What are your next steps

Depending on where you are in your fertility journey, we recommend the following:

- Share and discuss this article with your partner

- If relevant, order a home sperm screening kit

- Book in an appointment with one of our fertility advisors if you're a patient of Fertifa

Every person or couple has a different experience when it comes to trying for a baby. Some people get pregnant quickly, and for others it can take much longer. If you’ve been trying for a baby for a year or more and your partner is not pregnant or if you'd like to get your sperm tested, it’s a good idea to speak to your Fertifa Patient Advisor who can help you with the next steps.

If you're not part of Fertifa, but you're interested in putting fertility support and benefits in place at work, get in touch here to book a call with our team. We'd love to chat about how we can help 💜