1. What is male sterility?
  2. What are the possible anatomical causes of male sterility?

What is male sterility?

Male sterility corresponds to a reduced reproductive capacity in men and contributes for 50% to sterility in couples. The condition of male sterility is determined when certain conditions occur, like for example azoospermia, that is the total absence of spermatozoids, criptozoospermia, which indicates the drastic lack of spermatozoids in seminal fluid, or  in case of absence of ejaculation (anejaculation) or necrozoospermia that occurs when the spermatozoids present in seminal fluid are dead. Sterility is defined as primary when a man has never been able to induce a pregnancy, and secondary when he has been previously able to induce a pregnancy. There are different causes of sterility: genetic, infectious, hormonal and anatomical-functional.

What are the possible anatomical causes of male sterility?

Among the anatomical causes of male sterility there are two conditions known as cryptorchidism and varicocele. Cryptorchidism is when one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum in the first 6-12 months of life of a baby, which leads to a qualitative and quantitative reduction of spermatozoids. The same consequences occur with varicocele, that affects about 15% of men and consists in an abnormal dilation of the testicular veins. Reproductive capacity may also be compromised by surgical procedures of the genital or urinary system, of inguinal hernias or by those surgeries following cancer that together with traumas and testicular torsions, can affect reproductive capacity given that they totally or partially obstruct the tract in which seminal fluid passes. In the same way, erection dysfunction is related to 5% of sterility cases because it affects the normal sexual function of men. It can have different causes, both psychological and organic that may be of a vascular, neurological or hormonal nature. The most common organic causes are related to pathologies like diabetes, hypertension, arteriosclerosis or depression. In addition, also a reduced functionality of the muscles that control ejaculation may lead to retrograde ejaculation, which means that seminal fluid goes back to the bladder rather than being ejaculated.