Common causes in men

The most common cause of male infertility is the insufficient production of normal, motile sperm cells within the testicular ducts.

Medical reasons for reduced procreative ability

  • Undescended testicles
  • Varicose veins in the testicular sack
  • Past testicular infections (e.g. mumps)
  • Testicular injuries
  • Hormonal disorders preventing sperm maturation
  • Genetic causes (e.g. Klinefelter syndrome)
  • Infections (fever)
  • Medication (e.g. cytostatics)
  • No generation of sperm cells in the testicles “Sertoli cell only syndrome”
  • Other diseases (e.g. ejaculation disorders after paraplegia)

Generally negative influences on sperm quality

  • Stress, smoking, alcohol
  • Poor nutrition
  • Heat (prolonged sunbathing, sauna, solarium)

Methods to improve sperm quality

  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce drinking
  • Change eating habits
  • Complementary therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy etc.
  • Food supplements

These measures can only assist. Regrettably, there is no reliable method to ensure an improvement in sperm quality. This is also true of many different medications prescribed today.

If the number of fast moving morphologically unremarkable sperm cells is too low for a successful insemination an alternative therapy via IVF or ICSI is available.

Disorders in sperm maturation

Male sperm is of “normal quality” when the sperm count is more than 20 million per milliliter of seminal fluid. Of these, 30 % must be normally formed and 50 % must have good motility. If these values are not met male procreative ability is limited.

However, even if the semen analysis results are normal, a functional disorder can prevent the sperm from entering into the egg cell. Abnormalities in sperm maturation can be caused by a testicular involvement in an episode of Epidemic Parotitis (Mumps) that occurred during childhood. Varicose veins in the testicles can also cause a low sperm quality.

Other reasons include hormonal disorders, stress, medication, environmental stress, diseases (such as diabetes), undescended testicles, operated tumors, infections, and congenital causes such as chromosomal abnormalities.

Sperm transportation problems

In 4 % of all cases the sperm production is sufficient however they cannot enter the female body during ejaculation because the spermatic ducts are blocked. This situation is comparable with occlusion of the tubes in women. It can be caused by a preceeding sterilization (vasectomy) or underdeveloped or closed ducts of the epididymis. Closed epididymal ducts can be caused by inflammations.

DNA strand breaks

Genetic changes cannot be identified in a semen analysis. Changes in the hereditary information during the seed cell maturation may be caused by inflammation, medication (pain killers, cortisone etc.), environmental poisons (pesticides etc.), smoking, age, irradiation- or chemotherapy, thermal damage etc.