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Understanding Male Infertility: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Every man dreams of starting a family when he gets married, but not all men find it easy to fulfill this desire. Traditionally, infertility was often seen as a woman's issue, with male infertility receiving insufficient attention. This article sheds light on the issue of male infertility, exploring its causes, symptoms, and diagnosis.

Male Infertility: An Overview

Fatherhood is a cherished aspiration for many men, yet some face difficulties in achieving it. The primary challenge for many married men is the inability to conceive, often due to infertility. Male infertility can be emotionally distressing, especially if either the man or his partner is eager to have children.

Understanding Male Infertility

Male infertility is a common sexual health issue affecting a significant portion of the global male population, ranging from four to twelve percent. In simple terms, it refers to a condition where a man is unable to impregnate his partner despite unprotected sexual intercourse for over a year when the woman is fertile.

Common Causes of Male Infertility

Male infertility can have various underlying causes, including:

  1. Sperm Disorders

  2. Varicoceles

  3. Retrograde Ejaculation

  4. Immunologic Infertility

  5. Obstruction

  6. Hormonal Imbalances

  7. Medications

One of the primary contributors to male infertility is sperm disorders, which can involve issues like underdeveloped, misshapen, or non-motile sperm, as well as a low sperm count or absence of sperm in the semen.

Recognizing Symptoms

In addition to the inability to conceive, male infertility may manifest through other symptoms, such as:

  1. Sexual Function Issues, including ejaculation difficulties, reduced sexual desire, and erectile dysfunction.

  2. Testicular Pain, Swelling, or Lumps

  3. Recurrent Respiratory Infections

  4. Loss of Sense of Smell

  5. Abnormal Breast Growth (gynecomastia)

  6. Decreased Facial or Body Hair

  7. Abnormal Sperm Count (fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen)

Diagnosis of Male Infertility

When you see a Urologist to diagnose your male infertility, your doctor will conduct a physical examination to determine your general state of health and identify any physical problems that may impact your fertility. Along with that, he or she will review you as well as your partner to know your sexual habits. Next, he will conduct a few tests as well as do a semen analysis. The semen analysis will find out:

  1. Sperm volume: Amount of sperm per ejaculate.

  2. pH: A measurement of acidity or basicity.

  3. Sperm concentration: Number of sperm per milliliter of semen.

  4. Total sperm count: Number of sperm in your whole ejaculate.

  5. Velocity: How fast your sperm travels.

  6. Linearity: How straight your sperm moves.

  7. Morphology: Size and shape of your sperm.

  8. Colour.

  9. Viscosity: How fast your semen liquefies.

They may also do a sperm analysis which determines:

  1. Viability, or ability to survive.

  2. Morphology, or quality and shape.

  3. Motility, your sperm’s ability to move to the egg and fertilise it.

Apart from that, they might ask you to go for tests like:

  1. Leukocytospermia quantitation/Endtz test.

  2. Kruger’s strict morphology classification.

  3. W.H.O. morphology for sperm assessment.

  4. Special staining for azoospermic specimen.

  5. Semen biochemistry fructose test.

  6. Sperm antibody tests (direct and indirect immunobead).

  7. Reactive oxygen species.

  8. Sperm DNA assessment.


Receiving a diagnosis of male infertility can be emotionally challenging, leaving men feeling powerless and uncertain about their ability to have children. However, with the rapid advancement of medical science, treatments for male infertility are available for various causes. Regardless of the underlying issue, there is hope for achieving fatherhood through medical intervention. Men are encouraged to seek help from a urologist to explore treatment options and embark on their journey to becoming fathers.


Written by: Deepti Dogra

Edited by: Aniket Joshi

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