What are some of the most common causes of male infertility? On the other side, what are some of the strangest and uncommon causes?
About 60% of male infertility is due to poor sperm production, with either a low quantity of sperm or low quality sperm (or both) preventing natural conception.
The cause of low sperm counts or poor quality sperm is not always known but low testosterone levels, poor general health, lifestyle factors or obstruction of the passage of sperm from the testes are common causes.The least common causes of male infertility are probably specific genetic disorders that might affect only a few men.
Sometimes we know the cause. For example, damage to the testis from cancer treatment or mumps or a genetic problem. But often we do not know the cause (called idiopathic male infertility) so we give treatment to restore natural fertility.
Often assisted reproductive treatments are used to bypass the issue because very few sperm are needed. There are many rarer causes of male infertility, including drug side effects, hormonal deficiencies, or congenital abnormalities of the sperm ducts. All of these need to be specifically evaluated, and on occasion treatments available to restore natural fertility or to bypass the problem with ART.
Want to learn more about male infertility? Check out the information on our Male Infertility page or browse through our resource library for fact sheets, information guides and videos on preconception health and fertility.
Answered by: Prof Rob McLachlan AM FRACHP PhD
Prof Rob McLachlan is the Medical Director of Healthy Male. He specialises in the area of male reproductive medicine and has made significant contributions to research in endocrinology, infertility and andrology.
In 2016, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to medicine in the field of endocrinology, particularly in men’s reproductive health, and to medical research.
He is also an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Deputy Director of Endocrinology at the Monash Medical Centre, and consultant to the World Health Organisation on male infertility regulation.