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Male Factor Subfertility And Infertility


  • Male factor subfertility and infertility are conditions where a man is having problems getting a woman pregnant. Subfertility is a condition where a man has been unable to get a woman pregnant after one year of unprotected regular sex. Male factor infertility is being unable to get a woman pregnant due to a sperm problem in the man. These problems include asthenozoospermia (poor sperm movement), oligozoospermia (low number of sperm), and teratozoospermia (abnormal sperm shape). The causes of subfertility and infertility include genetics, infections, hypogonadism, or a varicocele. Other causes include problems with the immune system or the number, movement, and shape of the sperm. The male reproductive system includes the testicles, prostate, penis, scrotum, vas deferens, epididymis, and seminal ducts. Each testicle inside the scrotum produces sperm.
    Picture of male reproductive system
  • Signs and symptoms include being unable to produce a child, and the stress or emotional pressure caused by this. A mass or swelling on the scrotum that feels like a bag of worms may also be present (varicocele). To diagnose infertility, caregivers will ask you about your current health, and your health in the past. Tests may include a scrotal ultrasound, semen and sperm analysis, blood and urine tests, and genetic screening. Treatment may include medicine, percutaneous embolization, sperm extraction, or surgery to remove a varicocele or pituitary tumor. In some cases you may become fertile again after treatment.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


Medicine used to treat male factor subfertility and infertility may cause headaches, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting (throwing up), and irritability. You could get an infection or bleed too much with surgery. Your stomach, intestines, blood vessels, or kidneys may get injured or burned while having surgery. Even with treatment, you may still be subfertile or infertile. Without treatment, you may be unable to get a woman pregnant. Ask your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your condition, medicine, or care.


Informed consent:

A consent form is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


An IV (intravenous) is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.


You may be given the following medicines:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Hormones: These may be given if you have reproductive system problems, such as hypogonadism.
  • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Steroids: This medicine may be given to decrease inflammation.


You may need any of the following:

  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
  • Genetic screening: Genetic testing to look for abnormal genes may be done if you have a low sperm count or no sperm.
  • Semen analysis: A semen analysis is a test to check a man's fertility. An increased number of white blood cells in the semen may cause problems with sperm movement and function. You will need to ejaculate semen for this test. Talk with your caregiver about how this will be done.
  • Sperm analysis: The movement of sperm and how fast they move through mucus may be tested. The number of sperm may also be counted
  • Spermatic venography: This test will show the position of the veins (blood vessels) in the scrotum. During this test, your caregiver will put dye into your body and take x-rays to look for a varicocele. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to shellfish (lobster, crab, or shrimp), as you may also be allergic to this dye.
  • Ultrasound: A scrotal ultrasound uses sound waves to find lumps and other changes in your testicles and scrotum.
  • Urinalysis: Post-ejaculatory urinalysis is a test that is done on your urine after you have ejaculated. This test looks for the presence of sperm in the urine, which may suggest a blockage or problems with your ejaculation.

Treatment options:

  • Percutaneous embolization: This procedure may be used to treat a varicocele. The blood flow in the enlarged veins is blocked off. This stops the flow of blood and treats a varicocele.
  • Sperm extraction: Sperm may be removed from the testicles or epididymis if there is a blockage. The collected sperm may be saved or used to fertilize a woman's egg.
  • Surgery: Surgery may need to be done, such as removing a varicocele or pituitary tumor. Ask your caregiver for more information if you need surgery.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Male Factor Subfertility And Infertility (Inpatient Care)

Micromedex® Care Notes