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INFERTILITY HOL-emblem1-web.GIF (3556 bytes)

Causes of Infertility

Pinpointing the exact cause of infertility is difficult. About a third of fertility problems occur solely in women, one third in men and the remaining third are mutual. Current estimates suggest about six percent of men between the ages of fifteen and fifty are infertile. Given below are some of the common causes of infertility.

Problem Area

Percentage of Cases


30 to 40


15 to 20

Fallopian tubes

25 to 40



Unidentified factors

5 to 15


The most common cause is a low sperm count. Research has shown that sperm count worldwide has dropped by 50 percent since the 1940s. The reason is probably environmental (food, water and air) pollution involving chemicals.

Another common problem is poor sperm quality, and some men's ejaculate contains antibodies to their own sperm. Alternatively, there may be no sperm at all, either because the man is producing none or because the delicate tubes which carry them are blocked. Sometimes sperm cannot penetrate the egg when they reach it; and in a very small number of cases there may be hormonal problems.


Common reasons for female infertility include failure to ovulate (including polycystic ovary syndrome), blocked fallopian tubes (due to endometriosis, for example), and the production of antibodies to a partner's sperm. Psychological issues, such as stress or fear of parenthood, may contribute to infertility as well.

Specific Factors

It can be hard to pinpoint which of the many possible factors is the cause of a couple's infertility.

For both men and women there can be several factors, such as
bulletPhysical changes in the pelvis due to inflammation and infection
bulletChlamydia (results in an infectious disease called nongonococcal genital infection, the most common sexually transmitted disease in the US)
bulletExcessive physical activity
bulletExtreme weight gain or loss
bulletSevere mental or physical stress
bulletExposure to toxic substances including heavy metals, drugs, radiation and heavy smoking.

Causes Of  Female Infertility
bulletWomen with a previous history of the following are often unable to conceive:
bulletPelvic inflammatory disease
bulletPregnancy outside the uterus
bulletAbdominal surgery
bulletIntrauterine device (IUD) complications
bulletWomen develop an incompatibility with or allergy to the partner's sperm, which are destroyed as a result of immune system malfunction.
bulletOther causes of infertility in women
bulletFailure to ovulate
bulletPituitary gland failure
bulletOvarian failure
bulletLong-term effects of the birth control pill
bulletHypothyroidism or other hormonal imbalances
bulletAge (female fertility declines fast after 35)
bulletAbnormal womb shape
bulletHistory of pelvic infections
bulletBeing underweight
bulletHostile cervical mucus
bulletRecurrent miscarriages
bulletNutritional deficiencies
bulletThyroid malfunction
bulletFallopian Tube Problems – blockages, scarring, etc.
bulletCongenital abnormalities
bulletPelvic inflammatory disease
bulletEctopic pregnancy
bulletRuptured appendix
bulletLower abdominal surgery
bulletPrevious surgical closure (tubal ligation)

Causes Of Male Infertility
bulletDeficient sperm production

Specifically, inadequate sperm production by the testes or poor sperm motility. This may be due to

bulletEnvironmental toxins such as chemicals
bulletHeavy metal exposure
bulletCigarette smoking
bulletStreet drug use
bulletFrequent sex
bulletProlonged exposure to heat from hot tubs or saunas
bulletWearing underwear or pants that are too tight
bulletPoor diet
bulletLifestyle habits
bulletCauses Of Temporary Low Sperm Count
bulletIncreased scrotal temperature
bulletInfections, the common cold, the flu, etc.
bulletIncreased stress
bulletLack of sleep
bulletOveruse of alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana
bulletMany prescription drugs
bulletExposure to radiation
bulletExposure to solvents, pesticides, and other toxins
bulletOther causes of male infertility
bulletVaricose condition of the scrotum
bulletPrevious GU infection, or infection with mumps
bulletCertain prescription drugs, such as co-trimoxazole, testerone, anti- ulcer drug cimetidine (Tagamet), nitrofurantoin (Furadantin, Macrodantin) used in the treatment of urinary tract infections
bulletUndescended testes
bulletInfectious disease and glandular diseases affecting the hypothalamus, pituitary and the testes. Nutrient deficiencies also have a role to play.
bulletDuctal obstruction - An obstruction of the seminal tract will decrease or stop the passage of sperm from the testes to the urethra for ejaculation. This may result from
bulletCongenital defects
bulletInfection of the epidydimis, testes, seminal vesicles, urethra, prostate or vas
bulletUrethral stricture
bulletCystic fibrosis
bulletEjaculatory dysfunction
bulletPremature ejaculation
bulletRetrograde ejaculation
bulletDisorders of accessory glands
bulletAntisperm antibodies
bulletCoital disorders
bulletDefects in technique
bulletPremature withdrawal
bulletErectile dysfunction

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