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Common Causes of Male Infertility

When you and your partner have tried for many months to a year or more to get pregnant without success, you’re labeled with a diagnosis of infertility.  This doesn’t, however, mean that you should lose hope. 

The causes of infertility could be due to contributing factors from the female alone, the male alone or a combination of both. Oftentimes, these issues may be improved or resolved with targeted treatment.

The fertility experts at OC Fertility treat all causes of infertility, including infertility in men. Here, Dr. Sharon Moayeri and Dr. Nidhee Sachdev provide a guide to some of the most common causes of male infertility and what you can do about it. 

Sperm quality or quantity

For a pregnancy to occur, one of the male’s sperm must penetrate and fertilize the female’s egg. During each ejaculation, a healthy man with a normal sperm count releases anywhere from 15-200 million sperm per milliliter of semen. Even with all of those millions of sperm, only a few thousand actually make it to the egg.

If you produce too few sperm, or there’s an issue with their motility or their shape, the odds that one sperm will reach the egg and be able to fertilize it may be reduced. Some men may have a rare condition called azoospermia, where you’re not making any sperm at all, yet most men have no idea that this is occuring.

Lifestyle changes can sometimes improve the quality and quantity of your sperm. Your doctor may recommend that you:

Medications and medical conditions can affect sperm quantity and quality, too. During your exam, we evaluate your overall health and take a complete medical history to determine any underlying factors involved in your sperm abnormalities. 

You may also have anatomical findings that negatively impacts your fertility and can lowers your sperm count. During your infertility exam, we may order an ultrasound and other tests to determine the cause of your sperm abnormalities.


A fairly common finding and cause of male infertility is a varicocele. Similar to a varicose vein, a varicocele is the result of dilated blood vessels within the scrotum.

The enlarged, twisted veins prevent your testicles from draining properly. They can also inhibit the healthy production of sperm or may stop your testicles from developing fully. A doctor may be able to repair the varicoceles surgically, helping to restore your natural fertility.

Hormonal imbalances

If your body isn’t producing enough testosterone (T), you might not be able to make healthy sperm. Low T can also cause you to have trouble getting an erection and keeping it long enough to ejaculate, a condition known as erectile dysfunction (ED).

Although many men develop ED as they age, it can affect young men, too. In some cases, the work up may include evaluating your hormone levels. We may recommend lifestyle changes and testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) to restore your T.

Other structural, environmental, or medical causes

You may have a tumor or an anatomic defect that prevents you from making sperm or ejaculating well. Prior surgeries in the pelvic area could cause scarring and adhesions that hinder sperm production or ejaculation. Many of these issues can be resolved with surgery. 

Rarely, your body may produce antibodies that destroy your own sperm - particularly in cases of trauma or prior vasectomies. If you’re exposed to pollutants or toxins where you live or work, they may affect your sperm quality, too. 

To learn more about potential factors that could be contributing to infertility and to discuss a customized treatment plan that’s best for you and your partner, call us to discuss male infertility at 949-706-2229 or book an appointment on our website. We also offer educational Virtual Events that help you learn more about your options for creating a family.

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