What are some possible causes of male infertility?

Men can also contribute to infertility in a couple. In fact, men are found to be the only cause or a contributing cause of infertility problems in couples in about 40% of cases.1

To conceive a child, a male's sperm must combine with a female's egg. The testicles make and store sperm, which are ejaculated by the penis to deliver sperm to the female reproductive tract during sexual intercourse.

The most common issues that lead to infertility in men are problems that affect how the testicles work. Other problems are hormone imbalances or blockages or absence of some of the ducts in the male reproductive organs.2Lifestyle factors and age-related factors also play a role in male infertility.

A complete lack of sperm is the cause of infertility in about 15% of men who are infertile. When a man does not produce sperm, it is called azoospermia (pronounced ay-zoh-uh-SPUR-mee-uh). A hormone imbalance or a blockage of sperm movement can cause azoospermia.3

In some cases of infertility, a man produces less sperm than normal. This condition is called oligospermia (pronounced OL-ih-goh-SPUR-mee-uh) or a low sperm count. The most common cause of oligospermia is varicocele (pronounced VAR-ih-koh-seel), an enlarged vein in the testicle.


  1. American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (n.d.). Quick facts about infertility. Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://connect.asrm.org/srs/about/new-item9?ssopc=1 external link
  2. Jose-Miller, A. B., Boyden, J. W., & Frey, K. A. (2007). Infertility. American Family Physician, 75, 849–856.
  3. Jarow, J., Sigman, M., Kolettis, P., Lipshultz, L. R., McClure, D., Nangia, A. K., et al. (2011). The evaluation of the azoospermic male: Best practice statement reviewed and revised 2011. American Urological Association. Retrieved May 31, 2016, from https://www.auanet.org/education/guidelines/male-infertility-b.cfm external link
  4. Lindsay, T. J., & Vitrikas, K. R. (2015). Evaluation and treatment of infertility. American Family Physician, 91(5), 308–314.
  5. American Society for Reproductive Medicine & Society for Male Reproduction and Urology. (2014). Report on varicocele and infertility: A committee opinion.Fertility and Sterility,102, 1556–1560.
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