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What Factors Affect Male Fertility?

By Jacob Queen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are a wide variety of factors that affect male fertility. They include environmental problems, physical conditions, health issues, and lifestyle choices. Some of the more common issues include a condition called varicocele, which can increase heat in the testicles, obstructions, poor-quality sperm, and various contaminants that can lessen sperm production. Many of the factors that affect male fertility can be dealt with, and overall, the prognosis for males with fertility problems is often fairly positive.

On a fundamental level, male fertility issues are usually related either to sperm production, sperm performance, or the basic internal plumbing that allows sperm to leave the body. Any issue that affects one of these can potentially cause problems with a man’s ability to impregnate a woman. Some male fertility issues make it impossible for couples to conceive, while others simply reduce the odds. In some situations, the couple can keep trying until they get lucky, while others require a lifestyle change or medical treatment. In a few cases, it will be impossible for a man to improve his fertility.

Sometimes male fertility issues can be addressed by giving up some vice or making an environmental change. For example, a man may need to quit smoking or stop using certain medications. Sometimes it may even be necessary for a man to leave a job that is contaminating his body with some kind of toxin. Most recreational drugs have the potential to cause fertility issues along with other health problems, and avoiding these can potentially help some men recover their fertility.

Often, male fertility issues require medical treatment of some kind. Certain conditions, such as varicocele, which involves enlarged blood vessels in the testicles, may require surgery. Other conditions can be treated with medication that promotes more sperm or healthier sperm.

A very common cause of male infertility is heat. Sperm don’t survive well if they are exposed to too much heat. Reducing heat by wearing boxers instead of briefs can be helpful. Lowering the temperature of baths can also be beneficial in these cases.

Any kind of injury to the testicles is another major cause of infertility. Even if the injury is healed, there is a possibility that some kind of damage may have been done that the individual may not be aware of. For example, sometimes an injury can result in some kind or permanent obstruction. If a man has any uncertainty about a previous testicle injury, a doctor’s visit may be advisable.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon951987 — On May 19, 2014

I've never worn briefs in my life. I wear boxers yet am living with a varicocele. There's nothing I have not done to get my wife impregnated, but success is yet to come. But I believe God is older than the varicocele and he will do the operation himself.

By stoneMason — On Mar 10, 2013

I had a male fertility test recently and my doctor said that my sperm count is extremely low and that it's impossible for me to impregnate my wife. I know the reason too, it's steroids.

I used steroids on and off over the years for body-building. I knew before I started that steroids can lead to testicles shrinking but I didn't know that it could result in infertility.

Now I'm off of steroids for good. My doctor is treating me and I'm taking lots of multi-vitamins, especially vitamin E and vitamin C. I hope I can undo the damage from the steroids, I want kids.

I hope this can be a lesson for others considering steroids.

By bear78 — On Mar 09, 2013

@ddljohn-- I think the reason people believe that is because boxers give more space allowing for adequate blood circulation. Circulation is definitely important but I don't think that wearing boxers is going to increase male fertility.

It's more important to lead a healthy lifestyle as the article emphasized. Stress, smoking, being overweight and drinking are detrimental for sperm quantity and quality. I think it's better to concentrate on these factors rather than the type of undergarment.

By ddljohn — On Mar 09, 2013

I've often heard that wearing briefs can reduce male fertility, that it's better for men to wear boxers. Is there any truth behind this or is it a myth?

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