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Male Fertility and Lifestyle Factors

Male Fertility and Lifestyle Factors

Male Fertility and Lifestyle Factors are present in up to half of couples. The prevalence of male infertility makes semen analysis one of the most important fertility tests, and it should be performed prior to any female therapy. ⁠

Male infertility means that a man may not deliver the appropriate quantity or quality of sperm to reach and fertilize an egg. Sperm are manufactured in the testicles and travels through the epididymis and the vas deferens when ejaculated. Sperm require three months to develop, which means a semen analysis done today is reflective of the conditions three months earlier. The conditions that originally caused male infertility may no longer be present.⁠ The IVF Lab will gently wash and prepare the sperm for your ART procedure. Each lab has a slightly different method to separate the sperm with the highest motility for use in IVF or ICSI. ⁠

It seems obvious that heavy alcohol drinking can impair sperm production and disrupt hormones in men while in women it can increase the time it takes to conceive. Smoking can damage sperm DNA in men or damage eggs and affect ovulation in women. Fertility specialists often recommend not consuming caffeine and alcohol during fertility treatments. The study “Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption and Decreased Fertility,” published in Fertility and Sterility demonstrates just that. But did you know about these 5 things that can negatively impact male fertility?

1. Did you know drinking soda has been linked with a 20% reduction in the average monthly probability of conception for both men and women? Energy drinks likely have the same effect but require more study (Boston University, Hatch et al.)

2.The following common medications may cause male fertility problems: some antibiotics, spironolactone, cimetidine, nifedipine, sulfasalazine and colchicine.

3. Very common STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, mumps or HIV and other health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and depression

4. Enlarged veins in the tested (varicocele).

5. Constant exposure to high temperatures, like saunas or hot tubs, laptop computers, or workers exposed to heat stress.

Male Infertility Diagnoses

Sperm Motility
Sperm motility is important in fertility because sperm need to move through the woman’s reproductive tract to reach and fertilize her egg. Poor sperm motility can be a cause of Male Factor Infertility.⁠

Did you know that infertility due to male factors ranges from 20% to 70% and that the percentage of infertile men ranges from 2·5% to 12% worldwide? Infertility rates are highest in Africa and Central/Eastern Europe. Additionally, according to a variety of sources, rates of male infertility in North America, Australia, and Central and Eastern Europe vary from 4 5-6%, 9%, and 8-12%, respectively.⁠

The causes of low sperm motility vary, and many cases are unexplained.⁠

Damage to the testicles, which make and store sperm, can impact the quality of sperm.⁠

Common causes of testicle damage include:⁠

testicular cancer⁠
testicular surgery⁠
an issue a man is born with⁠
undescended testicles⁠
The long-term use of anabolic steroids can reduce sperm count and motility. Drugs, such as cannabis and cocaine, as well as some herbal remedies, can also affect semen quality.⁠

A varicocele is a swelling of the veins that drain the testicle, which can impact sperm quality. ⁠Varicocele has also been associated with low sperm motility.⁠

Sperm DNA Fragmentation

DNA fragmentation can be caused by a variety of factors such as infection, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, smoking, drug use, or advanced age. SDF is linked to impaired fertilization, poor embryo quality, increased spontaneous abortion rates and reduced pregnancy rates after assisted reproduction.

Sexually transmitted infections

STDs can also cause infertility in men. The process can be similar to how PID damages a woman’s fallopian tubes. The structures of the male reproductive tract, including the epididymis and urethra, can be damaged by infection with an untreated STDs. ⁠Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the first and second most commonly reported notifiable disease in the United States. ⁠

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are common. People who have a STI often have no symptoms. ⁠

Extremely common STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and mycoplasma genitalium can damage the reproductive organs and cause infertility.⁠

Sperm Agglutination

Sperm agglutination refers to the percentage of sperm that stick together. Male infertility is sometimes caused by the male developing antibodies to his own sperm, which increases agglutination in the semen. This usually results after a trauma to the testicles or surgical procedures such as a vasectomy reversal. When present, anti-sperm antibodies can bind to the sperm, essentially interfering with fertilization and motility.⁠

Ejaculation disorders include premature ejaculation, anejaculation (the failure to ejaculate), and retrograde ejaculation, which is when semen enters the bladder during orgasm instead of coming out the tip of the penis.⁠

Prior vasectomy, inguinal hernia repairs, scrotal or testicular surgeries, prostate surgeries, and large abdominal surgeries performed for testicular and rectal cancers risk, among others.⁠

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