Causes of Infertility in Men: Lesser Known Risks

Today is all about the men in your lives. If you’re planning on having kids soon (or in the future) you may want to send this blog post to your partner. Or- maybe you know a friend or relative who should give this a read. Either way, they’ll thank you.

We’ve written on male fertility a couple times before, covering fertility boosters and tests & factors that determine fertility. You understand the basics- diet, exercise, etc.- but what about the lesser known things messing with your fertility?

Sperm 101

Poor sperm quality, low sperm count, and a combination of the two are responsible for 90% of male infertility cases (1).

What’s Messing With My Fertility?

Heated Seats, Hot Tubs, Saunas

Optimal sperm production requires the testicles to be at a temperature of 1 to 2 degrees celsius below the core temperature of 37 degrees celsius. Hot tubs and heated seats in cars have shown some evidence of increase testicular temperature (2). 

A 2013 study conducted by the National Health Services claims that: “sauna exposure induces a significant but reversible impairment of sperm production” (3).

Before you turn up the seat heaters in your car for your next road trip, or hop in the sauna after a work out, keep this in the back of your mind!

Sexually Transmitted Infections

STIs (sexually transmitted infections) may damage the testicular tubes sperm uses to travel, thus, affecting sperm transport. Some isolated studies claim specific STIs (trichomoniasis and chlamydia) may impair the production of sperm (4).

Other forms of bacteria may affect the movement of sperm and its ability to live (4).

The takeaway? Practice protected sex!

Exposure to the Zika Virus

Studies demonstrate that Zika, the mosquito borne virus, may have lasting consequences on the male reproductive system. Researchers observed that mice infected with Zika experienced a drop in sperm count, lower levels of testosterone, and their testicle shrunk. Though more research must be observed in humans, it is already known that Zika can be detected in men months after they are infected and that the virus can be transmitted through sexual activity (5).

Overall, avoid areas in which you can be exposed to Zika or take the proper precautions to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Marijuana, Cocaine, Anabolic Steroids

There is a claim that marijuana and cocaine may reduce the count and quality of sperm temporarily (6).

Anabolic steroids cause testicles to shrink and the production of sperm to decrease (6).

Resources:

(1) https://www.umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/infertility-in-men

(2) https://www.menshealth.com/health/the-effect-of-heat-on-sperm-production

(3) https://www.nhs.uk/news/lifestyle-and-exercise/can-regular-saunas-harm-sperm-quality/

(4) https://www.myvmc.com/pregnancy/how-sexually-transmitted-infections-affect-sperm-health/#c2

(5) https://directorsblog.nih.gov/2016/11/08/could-zika-virus-have-lasting-impact-on-male-fertility/

(6) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/male-infertility/symptoms-causes/syc-20374773

 

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