Threats to Male Fertility

Both a man and the woman need to be healthy in order to produce a child. When a couple cannot conceive a child in a span of one year, they might be having infertility problems. According to research, infertility affects 10% (or about 6.1 million) Americans in the reproductive age. Contrary to myth, infertility is not always a "woman's problem." A third of the cases (about 35% are actually due to male infertility factors.

Infertility in men may be caused by many factors such as low sperm count (or nothing at all), ejaculation problems, or "abnormal" sperm, which is said to be malformed and have a short life span.

Generally, your fertility is based upon your general health. If you live a healthy lifestyle, there is a high probability that your sperm will also be healthy. There are quite a number of threats that may affect male fertility. Nicotine, alcohol and drugs (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) are on the top of the list. According to studies, smoking drastically decreases the sperm count and overall health of sperm cells.

Poor diet (malnutrition) can also contribute to male infertility, including deficiency in vitamin C and zinc in your diet. Some diseases (e.g., tuberculosis, fevers, anemia, and mumps in adulthood) and infections are also suspect. These are infections of the reproductive system such as epididymitis, orchitis, and prostatitis. Some sexually transmitted disease such as chlamydia or gonorrhea also damages the spermatic ducts. You also risk transmitting your disease to your partner causing her to be infertile.

Some medications are also believed to be causes of male infertility. This include cancer-treating agents (e.g., chemotheraphy), anti-fungal medication (ketoconazole), antidiarrheal drug (sulfasalazine), Azulfidine (a drug used to treat ulcerative colitis), and some groups of antibiotics (nitrofurans and macrolides). Likewise, the use of anabolic steroids is also known to cause testicular shrinkage and infertility.

Other threats to male fertility also include testosterone deficiency, trauma or injury to the testes, structural abnormality or blockage in the vas deferens, and varicocele, a varicose vein in the testicle that produces too much heat harming and killing sperm.

Some are also connected to your lifestyle, like excessive stress, overly intense exercise (may lower your sperm count by producing higher levels of adrenal steroid hormones, which lower the amount of testosterone in the body), tight underwear or jogging pants, hot tubs, saunas, or anything that raises the temperature of your scrotum, including overheated vehicles and hot work environments, and exposure to environmental hazards such as pesticides, lead, paint, mercury, benzene, boron, radiation (x-ray), radioactive substances, and heavy metals.

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