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Male Infertility - Overview

Infertility is the inability to conceive after at least one year of unprotected intercourse. As most couples are able to conceive within this time, it is advised that those who are not able to conceive should be checked for fertility problems. When the word infertility is mentioned, very few people think of male infertility. Most people think that infertility is often associated with women. However, male infertility is the reason behind 40% infertility cases. Notably, hormonal problems, other illnesses, reproductive organ injuries and blockages, sexual problems like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation can temporarily or permanently affect sperms and prevent conception. Some disorders become more difficult to treat the longer they exist without treatment. Sperm production takes place in the tubes of the testes. Inside the testes, sperm grow into mature sperm. Energy generated inside each sperm powers its tail so that it can swim to the female egg once inside the vagina. Sperm production and development are controlled by other hormones in the body. Low sperm counts or low motility of sperms are also reasons for male infertility.

Incidence

  • Studies show that the sperm counts of Indian men have dropped by one-third in the past three decades.
  • More than 12 to 18 million couples in India are diagnosed with infertility every year.
  • Presently, almost 40% men in the reproductive age group are undergoing a quantitative and qualitative decline in sperm quality.
  • Stress also decreases the hormones that stimulate sperm production.
  • A 10-year-long AIIMS study surveyed 1,000 men from north India and found that lifestyle factors like tight clothing, hot tub dips and long visits to the sauna, intensive gardening and farming resulting in pesticide exposure, and increased obesity rates were major causes for decreasing sperm count.

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