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National Infertility Awareness Week: What Men Should Know About Infertility

Posted on April 19, 2023 in Male Infertility

Male infertility is commonly overlooked. In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), Male Fertility and Sexual Medicine Specialists would like to broaden the assisted reproduction conversation to include what you should know about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of male infertility.

Facts About Male Infertility

Conception is a complex process for females and males. The male reproductive system must be able to perform functions (e.g., produce enough sperm able to travel to the fallopian tube and penetrate an egg for fertilization). A single impairment of sperm’s essential functions can result in male infertility.

There are many misperceptions about male infertility, perhaps the most common is the idea that infertility is a female problem. But studies show that males are responsible for 20-30% of infertility cases and contribute to 50% of overall incidence.

Male infertility:

  • Is often considered a taboo subject
  • Is a medical condition
  • Is just as common as female infertility
  • Increases at around age 40 to 45 (as sperm quality decreases)
  • Can contribute to miscarriages
  • Can often be treated
  • May be present even in extremely masculine men

Bodybuilder Bradley Goldman says, “I feel like I’m your stereotypical masculine-looking man,” Goldman says. “I’m tattooed. I have muscles. I work out. And I’m infertile. How many other guys out there that have this machismo, this mindset about them, are in my shoes as well?”

Symptoms and Causes


There are many contributing factors and causes of male infertility, including:

  • Low sperm production
  • Abnormal sperm function
  • Blockages that prevent sperm passage
  • Undescended testicles
  • Several long-term health conditions (e.g., diabetes, certain infections)
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Tumors


Although the primary symptom of male infertility is the inability to conceive a baby; there are some associated signs and symptoms, including:

  • Difficulty ejaculating
  • Reduced sexual desire
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Testicular pain or swelling
  • Gynecomastia (i.e., abnormal breast growth)
  • Decreased body or facial hair
  • Low sperm count (less than 39 million per ejaculation)

Psychological Symptoms

Emotional symptoms of male infertility are often the same as those experienced by females who cannot conceive a baby, they include:

  • Sadness and depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loss and grief
  • Feelings of inadequacy and failure

If you or someone you know is struggling with emotional symptoms from infertility, it’s crucial to seek a consultation from a mental health professional, such as a professional infertility counselor. Learn more about fertility counseling and where to find help here.

Male Infertility Risks

According to the Cleveland Clinic, some males are more likely to have fertility challenges, including those who:

  • Are overweight or obesity
  • Are over age 40
  • Have been exposed to radiation or environmental toxins (e.g., pesticides, lead, or mercury)
  • Use tobacco, marijuana, or alcohol
  • Are taking certain medications (e.g., cyproterone, flutamide, spironolactone, bicalutamide, cimetidine, or ketoconazole)
  • Are frequently exposed to a rise in testicular temperature (such as in frequent use of a sauna or hot tub)
  • Have a history of undescended testicle(s)
  • Have a history of varicoceles (i.e., widened veins in the scrotum)
  • Have taken supplemental testosterone


There are many successful treatment modalities for male infertility, including:

  • Medication (e.g., hormone therapy)
  • Surgery (e.g., vasectomy reversal or a vasoepididymostomy - a simple technique to repair blockages of the vas deferens)
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (i.e., a single sperm is injected into an egg to treat infertility that occurs due to sperm that cannot travel efficiently)
  • Sperm cryopreservation/sperm banking (often used by men who want to conceive after undergoing treatment that may cause infertility, such as certain types of cancer treatment).

A Message from Male Fertility and Sexual Medicine Specialists

Knowing the signs, symptoms, and causes of male infertility can lend itself to prompt intervention and successful infertility treatment outcomes. Our providers have advanced training in male infertility and urology; we specialize in vasectomy reversals and other specialized procedures. Contact us today for a free medical consultation.

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