Fertility / The man / Male causes of infertility

Male causes of infertility

Infertility may be due to reduced sperm count, and in recent years, the sperm counts of Danish men have declined significantly. Unfortunately, Danish men’s sperm counts are some of the worst in Europe and we do not really know why.

Of all heterosexual couples, 15% suffer from infertility problems, and 50% of these cases are due entirely or partly to a male factor (reduced sperm count). A reduced sperm count may be due to a number of factors:

An imbalance in the primary sex hormones FSH and LH, as well as testosterone, may cause deficient or suboptimal sperm cell production. FSH and, indirectly, LH control the production of sperm cells, and if these are out of kilter, hormone treatment can be attempted to re-establish fertility. However, this does depend on the reason for the imbalance in the sex hormones.

Heat from the use of saunas and spas can damage sperm cells and thus reduce their quality. The same is true of laptops, if men sit with them on their laps. Wearing tight underwear and tight trousers may cause friction/heat and can also impair sperm quality.

Abusing anabolic steroids presents a risk of reduced sperm count due to hormone disruption in the body. In most cases, it will be possible to restore sperm cell production but usually only after stopping the steroids for several months.

Failure to produce sperm cells or a greatly reduced sperm count may occur in men with small testicles and/or men with a history of cryptorchidism (i.e. one or both testicles did not descend after birth). This will be combined with an elevated level of the primary sex hormone FSH and low levels of Inhibin B.

Some chromosomal defects and damage to the Y chromosome may be associated with reduced sperm count or non-production of sperm cells. Some of these cases may be hereditary.

A number of environmental chemicals are suspected of being risk factors for male reproductive problems. These include alkylphenols (soaps, plastic), Bisphenol A (BPA) (hard plastic drinking bottles), parabens (cosmetics, food preservation), chemical UV filters (sun lotion, outdoor plastic) and natural and synthetic oestrogens. At work, exposure to pesticides, heavy metals, organic solvents and welding may also possibly affect sperm quality.

Some medicines are known to affect the ability to get an erection, normal antegrade ejaculation and/or sperm quality. We recommend that you talk to the doctor who prescribed the medicine in question, or you can always discuss the matter with one of our doctors at the clinic.

Disturbance of the male reproductive system in the embryonic stage can cause an increased incidence of testicular cancer, poor/reduced sperm quality, cryptorchidism and/or hypospadias.


Stork IVF Klinik | St. Kongensgade 40 H, 1. sal | DK-1264 Copenhagen K
Tel. +45 3257 3316 | Fax +45 3257 3346 | info@storkklinik.dk | CVR. No. 33 03 49 11


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