What Are Some Signs that a Man is Infertile?

If you’re a man trying to conceive or considering having a baby later, you probably want to maximise your chances of conception. And to do so, knowing how to recognize the signs of infertility in males is essential. All the more so that today, recent studies have shown that sperm count has dropped by more than 50% in 40 years!

Additionally, according to the NHS, about 1 in 7 couples are affected by infertility (defined as the inability to conceive after a year of regular and unprotected sex). In 20-30% infertile couples, the problem lies with the male. So, it’s important to pay attention to any symptoms of infertility in order to find a suitable treatment ASAP.

Infertile couple at the doctor

Although in most cases there won’t be any visible symptoms apart from the absence of pregnancy, here are some signs that a man is infertile:

1. Problems with ejaculation

If you have an ejaculating disorder, whether you are unable to ejaculate, you have a retrograde ejaculation (semen goes backward, towards the bladder) or you observe that you only produce a small amount of sperm, you should pay a visit to your doctor. Depending on your issues, one of your solutions is to conceive via artificial insemination with your own sperm.

2. Issues keeping an erection

If you often have trouble maintaining an erection to have sex, this could indicate health problems. Although there are plenty of different causes, erectile dysfunction (ED) might be the consequence of reduced levels of hormones such as testosterone, which could indicate infertility.

3. Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicles

If you feel pain, observe a swelling or a lump in the testicles, once again, go straight to your doctor. There are several conditions that could provoke these effects, and one of them is a varicocele. This affection (quite common in males), cause the enlargement of the veins within the scrotum. As a result, testicles can shrink, and sperm count as well as quality can be lowered, which could lead to infertility.

4. Inability to smell

At first sight, that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with infertility. However, inability to smell can be a sign of a genetic disorder called Kallman’s syndrome.In short, this very rare disorder prevents a man or a woman from fully starting of finishing puberty. With this condition, the body doesn’t produce enough of a hormone called gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH), normally made in the hypothalamus (part of the brain).

Because of this hormone deficiency, males can experience erectile dysfunction, low sex drive, small penis, and inability to conceive. Very poor or no sense of smell is another symptom, which unfortunately can’t be treated.

5. Low sperm count

Although it’s still possible to conceive when you have oligozoospermia (the scientific name for low sperm count), having less sperm also represents fewer chances to fertilise the egg. Low sperm count means that the number of sperm in a man’s semen is considered below normal, which is defined as fewer than 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen. On the other hand, what’s considered standard is a sperm count between 20 and 150 million sperm per millilitre.

6. Small testicles

The role of testicles is to produce sperm cells and testosterone. So, if you have small testes, this could be a sign that conceiving will be difficult.
This can also mean that you have Klinefelter's syndrome, another rare genetic condition that affects around 1 in 660 men. Those with this disorder are born with an extra copy of the X chromosome. One of the features is small testes, which as a result cannot produce as much testosterone as normal. Potential other signs include reduced facial and body hair, enlarged breasts, low sex drive, disproportionate bodies, and inability to have a baby naturally.

7. Abnormal breast growth

Gynecomastia, i.e. is the swelling of the breast tissue in men, is an endocrine system disorder. The growth around the breast area is provoked by an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and testosterone. Additionally, this could also be a sign of Klinefelter’s syndrome, just like having small testicles.

8. Low sex drive

If you experience decreased libido, this might be due to hormonal imbalances. Low sex drive, which is linked to hormones, could be a sign of infertility.

What to do if you experience infertility

If you have been unable to conceive a child after a year of regular and unprotected intercourse, or if you experience any of the symptoms above, you’ll have to pay a visit to your doctor or urologist.After undergoing a physical exam, you might be suggested to have a semen analysis to check the quality and quantity of your sperm.


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