Male Fertility Risk Assessment

Answer the questions below to discover your male infertility risk factors. 

What are a man’s risk factors for infertility? Take this personal risk assessment to help you understand what the underlying causes of your infertility might be.

Have you experienced prior trauma to your testicles or have you noticed physical changes in the pelvic region?
A history of scrotal or pelvic trauma or a spinal injury can limit a man’s ability to produce sperm or get an erection. Similarly, anatomical issues, such as a testicular mass or a varicocele (a group of dilated veins draining the testicle) should raise a red flag.  Further, previous surgery, cystic fibrosis, or certain types of birth defects can cause a blockage in the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis, causing infertility.

Do you have a chronic health condition?
Chronic medical conditions may cause potential problems with conception. Medical conditions that can affect male fertility include diabetes, HIV, thyroid disease, Cushing syndrome, heart attack, liver or kidney failure, and chronic anemia. Certain types of medications taken for these and other medical conditions can also impair sperm production, such as medicines for ulcers, psoriasis, depression, and high blood pressure.

Do you smoke cigarettes or marijuana or use illicit drugs?
Lifestyle choices do make a difference when it comes to making a baby. Cigarette smoking, cocaine or heavy marijuana use can temporarily reduce the number and quality of sperm. Chemical compounds in marijuana have also been shown to impair the sperm’s ability to swim and to penetrate the egg.

Do you frequent hot tubs or saunas?
Testicular overheating, such as from saunas, and hot tubs, and even high fevers, may temporarily lower sperm count.

Do you have a history of sexually transmitted diseases or other infections of the genital?
Repeated STD infections, such as Chlamydia or gonorrhea, are most often associated with male infertility by causing scar tissue and blocking sperm passage. Human papilloma viruses (HPV), the cause of genital warts, may also impair sperm function. Non-STD infections that may affect fertility include prostatitis (inflammation in the prostate gland), orchitis (in the testicle), semino-vesculitis (in the glands that produce semen), or urethritis (in the urethra), perhaps by altering sperm motility. Even after successful antibiotic treatment, infections in the testes may leave scar tissue that blocks the passage of sperm.

Are you overweight?
Obesity may impair hormonal levels and adversely affect fertility. Fortunately, your weight is typically one fertility risk factor that you can change.

Are you exposed to toxic chemicals or heavy metals on a regular basis?
Occupational or other long-term exposure to certain types of toxins and chemicals (such as herbicides and pesticides) may reduce sperm count by either affecting testicular function or altering hormone systems. Estrogen-like and hormone-disrupting chemicals such as bisphenol A, phthalates, and organochlorines are particular potential concerns. Chronic exposure to heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, or arsenic may affect sperm quality. These chemicals generally affect men who have long-term and intense exposure to them.

Do you ride bicycles frequently?
Bicycling may affect erectile function when pressure from the bike seat damages blood vessels and nerves that are responsible for erections. In particular, mountain biking, which exposes the perineum to more extreme shocks and vibrations, increases the risk for injuries to the scrotum.

Do you use performance enhancing drugs, such as testosterone or steroids?
Anabolic steroids used to enhance strength and fitness can actually drastically lower a man’s sperm count, sometimes even to zero in many cases. Similarly, testosterone supplements can also cause sperm counts to plummet.

Do you have a history of cancer?
Certain cancers, particularly testicular cancer, impair sperm production, often severely. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation can damage sperm quality and quantity, causing infertility. The closer radiation treatments are to reproductive organs, the higher the risk for infertility.

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your fertility might be at risk.

This general fertility risk assessment is a great starting point when speaking with one of our doctors about your infertility and can help our doctors determine what tests and treatment will be right for you. It is our goal to offer you guidance and help you find the safest, most effective way to get pregnant and bring home a healthy baby.