Male Infertility Overview

For a man to be fertile, his sperm cells must be healthy and be transported to their destination – the egg. Most cases of male infertility are due to sperm abnormalities, yet any of the following can play a role:

  • Low sperm count
  • Abnormally shaped sperm cells
  • Sperm that are immobile or have impaired movement
  • Impaired delivery of sperm

Sperm Basics

Fertilization depends on sperm that are properly shaped (morphology) and able to move (motility) rapidly and accurately toward the egg. Impaired motility and morphology can result in sperm not reaching the egg.

Sperm Count

Sperm count or concentration refers to the number of sperm cells per milliliter of semen.

Men with 10 million or fewer sperm per milliliter are considered sub-fertile. Approximately 20 million or higher is considered average; 40 million sperm or higher per milliliter indicates increased fertility.

Causes of Male Infertility

One cause of infertility is problems with reproductive organs and related glands. In some cases, conditions that were present at birth can affect a man’s later fertility. Surgery performed during childhood to correct abnormalities in the reproductive system can affect fertility as well.

The following are some examples of conditions that can impact either the production or delivery of healthy sperm:

  • Congenital absence of the vas deferens (CAVD)
  • Undescended testes, also known as cryptorchidism
  • Hyposadias
  • Kallmann’s syndrome
  • Klinefelter syndrome
  • Sertoli-cell only syndrome

Klinefelter syndrome and Sertoli-cell only syndrome have no known medical treatment unless sperm can be identified and extracted via different retrieval techniques.

Male Infertility