Fertility problems affect approximately 13% of the total reproductively active population, and male fertility issues are responsible for up to 30% of those cases. The condition often goes unrecognized or underdiagnosed in men. A recent study showed that only 41% of Ob/Gyn physicians consider a urological evaluation of the male partner and only 24% would routinely refer men to the urologist before ordering a semen analysis, according to RESOLVE. Male infertility is a common cause of treatment failure for people who have been trying to conceive naturally for more than one year.
Men’s fertility may be decreasing because the quality of their semen has been shown to decline. There is an evolving body of research showing the link between sperm and lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol use, weight, physical activity, and food.
Men may be at increased risk for infertility if they:
- Have a history of chronic diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease
- Have had a vasectomy, or have had surgery on their testicles or prostate gland (prostate cancer)
- Have low sperm counts (sperm count below 20 million per milliliter [mcm])
The most common identifiable cause of infertility in men is a varicocele, an abnormally enlarged vein draining the testicles. One out of 5 males with this condition have problems with fertility. Minimally invasive surgery has proved effective.