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  » Men's health  »  Infertility

Infertility

It is not uncommon for couples to have trouble becoming pregnant or experience infertility. Infertility is defined as not being able to become pregnant despite trying for one year, in women under age 35, or despite trying for six months in women 35 and over. Pregnancy is the result of a chain of events. As described in our Fertility Awareness section, a woman must release an egg from one of her ovaries (ovulation). The egg must travel through a fallopian tube toward her uterus. Your sperm must join with (fertilize) the egg along the way. The fertilized egg must then become attached to the inside of the uterus. While this may seem simple, in fact there are many things can prevent pregnancy. Reasons for infertility in men include:

  • Age. Although your body decreases some sperm production after age 25, unlike women, you might remain fertile into your 60s and 70s. But as you age, you might begin to have problems with your sperm that make it harder for them to fertilize an egg. These can include problems with the shape and movement of your sperm, sperm gene defects, or producing no sperm, or too few sperm.
  • Lifestyle . Behaviors such as smoking cigarettes or marijuana, heavy alcohol use, and taking illegal drugs can temporarily reduce sperm quality.
  • Environmental exposures. Researchers are looking at whether exposure to environmental toxins, such as pesticides and lead, also may be to blame for some cases of infertility.
  • Health problems. For men, having a health problem, such as a sexually transmitted disease (STD), diabetes, genetic disease (such as cystic fibrosis), the mumps virus after puberty, surgery on or infection in the prostate gland, or a severe testicle injury or problem, can cause infertility. Some men who are infertile have suffered from a condition called a varicocele — a network of veins in the scrotum that are bluish, long, "worm-like" and enlarged. They can cause pain and discomfort, but seem to become smaller or disappear when the man lies down. Although these can be treated, they might damage the testes.
  • Medications. Some medicines that men take for ulcers or psoriasis can cause infertility. Some blood pressure lowering drugs (such as diuretics, beta blockers, and central agonists) also can cause impotence.

If you or your partner has a problem with sexual function, libido or fertility, don't delay seeing your health care provider for help. There is a good chance that you can get treatment for your problems.