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Male Factor Subfertility and Infertility

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 3, 2022.

What are male factor subfertility and infertility?

Male factor subfertility and infertility are conditions that cause a man to have problems getting a woman pregnant. Infertility means you are not physically able to get a woman pregnant. Subfertility means you are physically able, but your partner has not yet become pregnant. Pregnancy may still happen, but it is less likely without medical help.

Male Reproductive System

How are the causes of male factor subfertility and infertility diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider may ask about your health history. Tell him or her if you fathered any children or if you and your partner have tried assisted reproductive therapy. Also tell him or her if your partner has lost any pregnancies. Your provider will also do a physical exam. Your hormone levels will be checked through a blood test. Your semen may be checked for problems that can affect sperm movement and function. Your urine may be checked for sperm. Sperm in your urine may mean you have a blockage or other problem. X-ray, ultrasound, or MRI pictures may show a problem or infection with your reproductive organs.

How are male factor subfertility and infertility treated?

The treatment depends on the cause:

  • Medicine may be given to treat an infection of the reproductive system. Testosterone may be given if your level is too low. Steroids may be used to treat infertility caused by a problem in the immune system.
  • Percutaneous embolization is a procedure to treat a varicocele. The blood flow in the enlarged veins is blocked to stop the flow of blood.
  • Sperm extraction is a procedure to remove sperm from the testicles or epididymis if you have a blockage. The collected sperm may be saved or used to fertilize a woman's egg.
  • Surgery may be done to repair a blockage in the sperm duct or remove a tumor.
  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART) can be done in several ways. An unfertilized egg may be placed into your partner's fallopian tube along with sperm. This allows fertilization to happen inside her body. Her eggs may be removed and fertilized by sperm outside of her body. Then the fertilized eggs (embryos) are put back into her uterus or fallopian tubes.

What can I do to increase my fertility?

  • Create a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your healthcare provider about a healthy weight for you. Being overweight increases your risk for infertility. Healthcare providers can help you create healthy meal and exercise plans if you need to lose weight. Do not drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or use illegal drugs. Any of these can cause infertility. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.
  • Ask about ways to manage stress. Stress can make infertility problems worse. Stress can become worse the longer infertility continues. Try to find ways to help yourself relax. A regular sleep schedule can also help lower stress. Talk to your healthcare provider if you continue to have problems managing stress.
  • Do not let your testicles get too warm. Warmth can kill sperm. Hot tubs and tight underwear are common causes of overheating. Tight underwear pulls your testicles up where they are affected by body heat. You may also need to use a different kind of underwear, such as boxers. Do not sit in hot tubs while you and your partner are trying to conceive.

Where can I find support and more information?

  • American Academy of Family Physicians
    11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
    Leawood , KS 66211-2680
    Phone: 1- 913 - 906-6000
    Phone: 1- 800 - 274-2237
    Web Address:
  • American Society for Reproductive Medicine
    1209 Montgomery Highway
    Birmingham , AL 35216-2809
    Phone: 1- 205 - 978-5000
    Web Address:

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