School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Male Infertility

Infertility affects approximately 1 out of every 6 couples. An infertility diagnosis is given to a couple who are unable to conceive over the course of one year. When the problem lies with the male partner it is referred to as male infertility. Male infertility factors contribute to approximately 50% of all infertility cases, and male infertility alone accounts for approximately one-fifth of all infertility cases.

One way to categorize male infertility is by obstructive and non-obstructive problems. Obstructive problems indicate a blockage somewhere in the male reproductive tract from the testicle all the way into the urethra. Most obstructions can be surgically repaired. Non-obstructive problems can indicate an impairment in sperm production.

Any of the following can cause a man to have a low sperm count or abnormal sperm:

  • Varicocele — an abnormal collection of bulging veins around the testicle; they’re the most common cause of correctable male infertility, accounting for 38% of cases
  • Undescended testicle
  • Infections in the testicle (orchitis), the prostate (prostatitis), or elsewhere in the body that causes a fever
  • Chemotherapy or radiation for cancer
  • Medicines such as anabolic steroids or anti-seizure medicines
  • Genetic abnormalities
  • Hormone problems

In some cases, these problems can be reversed, but other times they can’t. An evaluation by a physician is the only way to sort it out.

WSU Urology evaluates male fertility with

  • thorough medical history
  • physical exam
  • semen analysis
  • bloodwork
  • ultrasound and radiologic examination, if needed.

A semen analysis looks for:

  • Azoospermia, where no sperm are produced or sperm do not appear in the semen.
  • Oligospermia, where few sperm are produced.
  • Problems with sperm motility, which reduce the likelihood of fertilizing an egg.
  • Problems with sperm form and structure (morphology).

Two normal semen analyses are typically required to rule out significant infertility problems.

We also perform surgical sperm retrieval and vasectomy reversals.

For more information about our Urology Department or to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified urologists, call 313-271-0430