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Men: Know Your Fertility Risks
Learn about some risks for infertility and what you might do to preserve your own ability to conceive a child.
Infertility is a condition that affects approximately 6 million American couples, roughly 10 percent of the reproductive age population. It’s not just a female problem — men and women contribute about equally to the cause. Being aware of some risks for infertility may help you avoid a struggle when it comes time to try to get pregnant.
If you have any risk factors for infertility or have tried to conceive for one year without success, talk to your doctor.


Risk The facts What you can do
Age A man’s fertility begins to drop after age 35. Contemplate your desire for a family and try to factor it in with other life plans, such as career and education.
Exposure to chemicals Radiation, pesticides and industrial solvents may harm sperm production. Avoid exposure to these agents; see urologist for a semen analysis.
Exposure to heat Prolonged or repeated exposure to heat impairs sperm count, movement, and formation. Avoid hot tubs and saunas. Wear loose-fitting undergarments such as boxer shorts.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases If left untreated, STDs can damage the delicate organs that transport sperm. Consider using a barrier method of contraception, such as a condom, which offers the most protection against STDs
Cancer treatment Radiation and chemotherapy treatments frequently damage sperm-producing cells. Men about to undergo cancer treatment might investigate sperm banking
Varicocele Varicose veins in the scrotum, or varicocele, lead to abnormal sperm production and movement. See a urologist for diagnosis and treatment.
Surgery of reproductive organs A vasectomy causes sterility by cutting the tubes that move sperm. A urologic microsurgeon can perform a vasectomy reversal.
Prescription Drug Use Some prescription drugs can cause infertility, including medications to treat heart disease and high blood pressure. Provide your doctor with a complete list of prescriptions you are taking, asking specifically if they impact fertility.
Smoking Smoking lowers sperm counts, hampers sperm movement and causes some sperm to be abnormally shaped. Talk to your doctor about a plan to quit smoking.
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