Approximately 15 percent of couples in the US are infertile, meaning they are not able to conceive even though they have been having unprotected sexual intercourse for more than a year. Fifty percent of cases are due to a male factor issue.

Male infertility is due to problems with sperm number, sperm quality, or a blockage in the reproductive tract. Illness, injury, chronic health issues, lifestyle choices, and other factors can play a role in male infertility.

Risk Factors

  • Genetics
  • Certain endocrine disorders
  • Chemotherapy
  • Overheating of the testicles (i.e. varicocele, chronic hot tub use)
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Past infections, including sexually transmitted diseases, mumps and prostatitis
  • Malnutrition
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals and heavy metals (e.g., lead and cadmium)
  • Radiation treatment
  • Tobacco and drug use
  • History of undescended testicles


  • Semen analysis (sperm number, shape, movement)
  • Blood tests (reproductive hormones and testosterone)
  • Ultrasound (of the scrotum or prostate)
  • Biopsy of the testis may be required


Treatment for male infertility largely depends on the cause of the condition and can include:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Medication to correct hormone balance or improve sperm number and quality
  • Surgical treatment (varicocele repair, sperm aspiration, testicular sperm extraction, reconstruction such as epididymovasostomy)
  • Assisted Reproductive Technologies (sperm retrieval coordinated with IVF for the female partner)

What is the Best Treatment for Male Infertility?