WHAT EXACTLY DOES MALE INFERTILITY MEAN?
Infertility is the medical term for sterility. This is the case when regular sexual intercourse without contraception does not lead to pregnancy within 12 months.
There is a general distinction between primary and secondary infertility:
The man has never fathered a child before.
The man has already fathered one or more children, whether with his current partner or another woman.
In many cases of infertility, the woman is examined before the man; although in about half of all cases, the cause is found in the man.
WHAT CAUSES INFERTILITY?
Male infertility can have many causes. Genetics, stress, changes in life patterns and dietary habits all lead to a dramatic reduction in sperm cell production and quality. The wish to have a child is still denied to around 15% of all couples, even after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse.
A fundamental distinction is made between inherited and acquired disorders. Furthermore, a distinction is made between diseases relating to hormonal control of testicular function (approx. 12%), diseases of sperm formation in the testicles (approx. 30-40%) and diseases of the sperm transport system (approx. 10-20%).
INFERTILITY DUE TO
|Testicular diseases||Diseases of the testicles and epididymides such as inflammations, varicose veins or twisting of the testicles usually affect younger men and should be taken very seriously, as they can impair fertility.|
|Disorders of hormone production||Hormones, specifically the hormone FSH, control the production of sperm cells in the testicles. If there is not enough FSH in the body, hormone treatment should be considered.|
|Varicose veins on the testicles (varicocele)||Varicoceles are varicose veins in the area of the testicles and spermatic cord. This condition affects approximately 15% of all men. Untreated varicoceles are a common cause of male infertility, as blood congestion in the scrotum can increase the temperature of the testicles by 0.5–1C°, which in turn has an adverse effect on sperm production. A varicocele is the cause of infertility in about 25-40% of all infertile men.|
In a study specially designed for men affected by subclinical varicoceles, it was shown that taking PROFORTIL® for a minimum of 3 months improves all sperm parameters.
|Antibodies on sperm cells||Since sperm production starts only during puberty, the body may identify sperm cells as foreign objects and develop antibodies. These antibodies can minimize the chance of pregnancy.|
|Disturbances of the seminal ducts||The epididymis is where sperm cells mature. It consists of a two to four meter-long duct system through which the sperm are transported. Even the slightest inflammation can lead to adhesions. With this sperm transport disorder, the sperm cells are unable to connect with the sperm fluid, which leaves too few intact sperm in the ejaculate, or none at all.|
INFERTILITY DUE TO AN
If the medical causes of a fertility disorder have been ruled out, current science assumes that the cause lies primarily in lifestyle and eating habits.
|Excess weight||Being just 20 lbs overweight increases the risk of infertility by 10%. Particularly an increase of body fat in the abdomen reduces the free, biologically active portion of testosterone.|
|Smoking||Smoking affects the density, mobility (sperm motility) and shape (sperm morphology) of the sperm. A direct effect on testicular function and spermatogenesis (= maturation process of sperm cells) can be assumed. Metabolites from components of cigarette smoke can cause inflammatory reactions in the male genital tract, which can lead to oxidative damage to the sperm.|
|Alcohol||Severe chronic alcohol abuse can have toxic effects on the testicles. This is expressed in disturbed spermatogenesis (= maturation process of sperm cells). This can impair the motility and shape of the sperm.|
|Nutrition||An unhealthy diet can lead to the development of deficiencies and result in limited sperm quality. In particular, vitamins and other micronutrients that are ingested through food serve as cofactors for enzyme reactions and have an antioxidant effect.|
INFERTILITY DUE TO
|Food||Research shows that fruit and vegetables no longer contain as many vitamins as they originally did. The quality of food has deteriorated due to intensive use of the soil.|
|Age||Sperm quality can start to decrease from the age of 35. For a person under 30 years old with a partner over 40, the chance of becoming pregnant is already 25% lower than a person with a younger partner. Despite this fact, older fathers seem to be in fashion in the modern world. Today, there are more and more men who only want to become fathers after reaching certain milestones in their lives or careers. As a result, many men are only just beginning their journeys to fatherhood, well into their 40’s. Many of them may not succeed without complication and intervention, however, as science now knows of the age-related impacts on sperm health, such as decreases in the number and motility of sperm. Chromosomal changes (breaking of DNA strands) in the sperm also occur more frequently with age.|
Read more about the breaking of DNA strands in sperm cells and its consequences.
|Bisphenol A (BPA)||Bisphenol A (BPA) is a plasticizer and one of the most widely produced chemicals. BPA is found in many consumer products, beverage bottles and plastic food packaging. The inside coatings of cans also have traces of BPA. The use of BPA for the production of baby pacifiers and baby bottles is both ironic and alarming. Researchers from Michigan found that Chinese factory workers on the production line, who had been exposed to the chemical BPA, were found to have sexual impotence, erectile problems and ejaculation problems. The researchers also showed a correlation between bisphenol A values in urine samples and the concentrations of fertility hormones in the workers. The US researchers compared the BPA values in the urine of 218 workers with their sperm quality. BPA has been shown to increase the risk of poor semen quality by two to four times. This includes both the concentration of sperm and the vitality and motility required for fertilization.|
|Medications||The following drugs can impair sex drive and erectile function, and in some cases cause reduced ejaculation:|
Antidepressants: medications used to treat depression. In addition, antidepressants have numerous other areas of application, e.g. in pain therapy.
Tranquilizers: a group of drugs that have calming effects.
Antihypertensives: a generic term for drugs that lower blood pressure. Together with lifestyle changes, they form the basis of antihypertensive therapy.
Antiepileptics: medication used for the treatment of epileptic diseases or seizure disorders.
Cardiac medications: used for treating heart diseases (cardiotonic).
In medicine, the term “endocrine disorder” refers primarily to gland. All glands in the human body that produce hormones and release them into the blood are called endocrine glands. Certain drugs can interfere with endocrine regulatory mechanisms, which can in turn influence fertility:
Anabolic steroids: generic term for a group of drugs used to accelerate the building of muscle mass.
Antiandrogens: drugs that inhibit the action of male sex hormones.
Some substances can inhibit the maturation process of sperm cells (= spermatogenesis):
Cytostatic drugs: toxic chemical substances that are used in medicine as drug substances, particularly in chemotherapy for cancer. A cytostatic drug disrupts, delays or prevents the cell cycle, which prevents tumor cells from dividing and spreading.
Antibiotics: substances that have an inhibitory influence on the metabolism of microorganisms (e.g. bacteria), preventing their reproduction or survival.
Immunosuppressants: drugs that suppress the normal functionality of the immune system.
|Temperature||The normal temperature of the testicles is 35°C. The effects of heat (e.g. through steel work, sitting for long periods in the case of professional drivers, welding work, frequent sauna sessions, etc.) can cause the temperature in the testicles to increase, which can in turn impair fertility.|