Ask the Doc: What are some of the most common causes of male infertility?


What are some of the most common causes of male infertility? On the other side, what are some of the strangest and uncommon causes?



About 60% of male infertility is due to poor sperm production, with either a low quantity of sperm or low quality sperm (or both) preventing natural conception.

The cause of low sperm counts or poor quality sperm is not always known but low testosterone levels, poor general health, lifestyle factors or obstruction of the passage of sperm from the testes are common causes.The least common causes of male infertility are probably specific genetic disorders that might affect only a few men.

Sometimes we know the cause. For example, damage to the testis from cancer treatment or mumps or a genetic problem. But often we do not know the cause (called idiopathic male infertility) so we give treatment to restore natural fertility.

Often assisted reproductive treatments are used to bypass the issue because very few sperm are needed. There are many rarer causes of male infertility, including drug side effects, hormonal deficiencies, or congenital abnormalities of the sperm ducts. All of these need to be specifically evaluated, and on occasion treatments available to restore natural fertility or to bypass the problem with ART.

Want to learn more about male infertility? Check out the information on our Male Infertility page or browse through our resource library for fact sheets, information guides and videos on preconception health and fertility.

Prof Robert McLachlan

Robert McLachlan

Healthy Male Medical Director

Prof Robert McLachlan is a consultant andrologist and has been integral to Healthy Male from its inception as Andrology Australia in 2000. He has been Medical Director since 2006. In November 2020, Rob was awarded Life Membership of the Endocrine Society of Australia. Over his 30-year career, he has been passionate about educating doctors and the community about male reproductive health, particularly to normalise discussion of sensitive topics and to encourage men to seek help from their GPs. A past president of the Fertility Society of Australia, he has a strong connection in fertility practice and has raised the profile of infertile men involved in IVF. Rob has received several awards for his clinical research and was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2016 for services to medicine in the field of endocrinology.



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