Page header image

Infertility in Men: Brief Version

What is infertility?

Infertility is not being able to get pregnant after having sex without birth control for at least a year. It can be caused by problems in a man's or a woman's body.

What is the cause of infertility in men?

Most often, a man is not able to get a woman pregnant because his body does not make enough sperm or the sperm are not normal. Problems with sperm can happen for many reasons. For example:

  • You have been around chemicals or radiation.
  • You have a genetic or medical problem.
  • You have had an infection.

Some of the things you do may affect how many sperm you have. For example:

  • You smoke.
  • You drink too much alcohol or use street drugs.
  • You take long hot baths or use a hot tub often.
  • You wear tight underwear.
  • You have sex too often (every day).

Sometimes the problem may be getting the sperm into your partner's vagina:

  • You ejaculate too soon.
  • Your semen goes back into your bladder.
  • You cannot keep an erection.

Some diseases (such as diabetes) and medicines can also cause problems. Lubricants used during sex may also make it harder for your sperm to get your partner pregnant. Also, men are less fertile as they get older.

How can I find out what is wrong?

You and your partner will be examined by your healthcare provider. You will be asked about your sexual history and your medical history.

You may also have these tests:

  • A test of your semen and sperm.
  • Blood tests.
  • Ultrasound scan.

How is it treated?

If your healthcare provider finds a problem that makes it hard for you to get your partner pregnant, he or she will treat the problem.

You may need to do one or more of these things:

  • Keep your sperm cool. Don't take long, hot showers. Stay away from hot tubs and saunas.
  • Wear boxer shorts rather than jockey shorts.
  • Stop using lubricants during sex.
  • Don’t have sex every day.
  • Stop smoking or stop using alcohol or drugs.
  • You may need to take hormones.
  • Take drugs to help you make more sperm.
  • Take medicine for an infection.
  • Get treatment to help with ejaculation problems.
  • Have surgery.

You have some other choices for treatment:

  • If your sperm count is low, you can collect sperm at different times. When you have enough sperm, the sperm can be put in your partner's body at the same time that one of her eggs leaves the ovary.
  • You can use sperm given by another man. If you choose to use sperm given by another man, only use sperm banks that screen for sexually transmitted diseases and other medical illnesses in the man and his family.
  • Your sperm and your partner's egg can be put together in the lab. Then the growing egg can be put in your partner's body. This procedure can cost a lot, and it doesn’t always work.

All of this can be hard for you and your partner. It can help to get counseling.

How can I help prevent infertility?

There are many things you can do to lower your chances of being infertile.

  • Use latex condoms when you have sex. This helps prevent infections you can get from sex.
  • Have sex only with your partner.
  • Don’t use lubricants when you have sex.
  • Don’t drink a lot of alcohol.
  • Don’t use street drugs.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Stay away from chemicals that can hurt you, like weed killers and chemicals at work.
  • Avoid exposure to radiation.
  • Stay out of hot tubs.
  • Wear boxer shorts instead of jockey shorts.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-06-14
Last reviewed: 2010-05-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
Page footer image