Male infertility refers to a male’s inability to cause pregnancy in a fertile female. In humans, it accounts for 40–50% of infertility. It affects approximately 7% of all men. Male infertility is commonly due to deficiencies in the semen, and semen quality is used as a surrogate measure of male fecundity.
The diagnosis of infertility begins with a medical history and physical exam by a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner. Typically two separate semen analyses will be required. The provider may order blood tests to look for hormone imbalances, medical conditions, or genetic issues.
The history should include prior testicular or penile insults (torsion, cryptorchidism, trauma), infections (mumps orchitis, epididymitis), environmental factors, excessive heat, radiation, medications, and drug use (anabolic steroids, alcohol, smoking).
Sexual habits, frequency and timing of intercourse, use of lubricants, and each partner’s previous fertility experiences are important.
Loss of libido and headaches or visual disturbances may indicate a pituitary tumor.
The past medical or surgical history may reveal thyroid or liver disease (abnormalities of spermatogenesis), diabetic neuropathy (retrograde ejaculation), radical pelvic or retroperitoneal surgery (absent seminal emission secondary to sympathetic nerve injury), or hernia repair (damage to the vas deferens or testicular blood supply).
A family history may reveal genetic problems.
Usually, the patient disrobes completely and puts on a gown. The physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner will perform a thorough examination of the penis, scrotum, testicles, I vas deferens, spermatic cords, ejaculatory ducts, urethra, urinary bladder, anus, and rectum. An orchidometer can measure testicular volume, which in turn is tightly associated with both sperm and hormonal parameters. A physical exam of the scrotum can reveal a varicocele, but the impact of detecting and surgically correct a varicocele on sperm parameters or overall male fertility is debated.