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Infertility in males is much more common than people think. Although many people believe that infertility is linked directly to the woman, about one-third of infertility cases are actually due to problems with the man. Some of the common causes of male infertility include age, lifestyle, and health problems.
It is not uncommon for couples to have trouble becoming pregnant or experience infertility. Infertility is defined as not being able to become pregnant despite trying for 1 year in women under age 35, or despite trying for 6 months in women 35 and over.
Pregnancy is the result of a chain of events. A woman must release an egg from one of her ovaries (ovulation). The egg must travel through a fallopian tube toward the uterus. The man's sperm must join with (fertilize) the egg along the way. The fertilized egg must then become attached to the inside of the uterus. While this may seem simple, there are actually many factors that can prevent pregnancy.
There are many different reasons why a couple might be struggling with infertility. It is a myth that infertility is always a "woman's problem." About one-third of infertility cases are due to problems with the man (male factors) and one third are due to problems with the woman (female factors). Other cases of infertility are due to a combination of male and female factors or to unknown causes.
Male infertility causes may include:
- Environmental exposures
- Health problems
Although your body decreases some sperm production after age 25, unlike women, you might remain fertile into your 60s and 70s. However, as you age, you might begin to have problems with your sperm that make it harder for them to fertilize an egg. These can include problems with the shape and movement of your sperm, sperm gene defects, or producing no sperm or too few sperm.