Male factor infertility is not as widely discussed or comprehensively understood as female factor infertility. However, it's equally important to recognise the role male infertility plays is crucial to navigating fertility struggles and supporting individuals and couples on their journey to conception. We’ve delved into the common causes and available treatments to deepen your understanding of male factor infertility.


Sperm Production Disorders
The most prevalent disorders involve difficulties in the production and development of sperm. Issues such as low sperm count, poor sperm motility, and abnormal sperm morphology (inability to grow fully or irregularly shaped) can hinder the sperm's ability to reach and fertilise an egg.
Factors contributing to sperm disorders can include genetic abnormalities, infections, tumours, and lifestyle choices. Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, exposure to environmental toxins, and certain medications are among some of the lifestyle choices that can lower sperm numbers and quality.

Hormonal Imbalances
Inadequate testosterone and gonadotropin hormone levels can hamper fertility. Low testosterone levels can negatively impact sperm production, leading to reduced sperm count and impaired sperm quality. The luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) are essential for normal sperm development. Disruptions or imbalances to these hormones, stemming from issues with the glands involved in hormone production, can result in decreased production and quality of sperm.

Reproductive Tract Issues
Structural abnormalities or blockages in the reproductive tract can impede the transport of sperm. For example varicoceles, blockages of the vas deferens, swollen veins in the scrotum, can all impact sperm numbers and quality in the ejaculate.
Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen enters the bladder instead of being expelled through the penis, typically due to nerve or muscle dysfunction. This prevents the muscles in the bladder from closing and as a result no semen is released in the ejaculated semen.

Genetic Factors
Genetic abnormalities, such as chromosomal defects or Y-chromosome microdeletions, may contribute to male infertility. Genetic karyotype testing can help identify these factors and guide treatment options.


Abnormalities can sometimes be treated through surgery. Problems with the reproductive tract such as varicoceles can often be surgically corrected or an obstructed vas deferens repaired. In cases where sperm is not present in the ejaculate, it may be possible to retrieve some sperm directly from the testicles or epididymis using sperm retrieval techniques.

Hormonal replacements may assist in cases of hormonal imbalances, while there are medications available that can stimulate sperm production, under medical supervision.

Assisted Reproductive Techniques
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is the most common treatment option used to assist male factor infertility. It allows one single sperm to be injected into each egg, assisting most male factor problems with sperm numbers and sperm motility.

Male factor infertility has many treatment options to assist reaching the goal of parenthood. By understanding the common causes, and exploring available treatment options, individuals and couples can take proactive steps towards achieving their dream of starting a family. If you or a loved one are experiencing concerns, consider booking an appointment with your doctor to discuss having a semen analysis test to evaluate the health of your semen.

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