Shooting Blanks: 8 Signs Your Man Might Be Infertile

Having trouble getting pregnant and not sure where to start? You’re not alone. Here are 8 signs that could indicate infertility in men.

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If you are a sexually active woman, you probably spent your entire young adult life (or perhaps teenage years) terrified that you would have to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. Fast forward several years to when you are finally ready to have a baby. You expect everything to go according to plan…you have sex, you wait a few weeks, you take a test and poof, you’re having a baby! That’s how it goes down in the movies, after all. Except more often than not, it’s a little more complicated than that. It’s actually pretty hard to get pregnant. A lot of things need to align to make a baby. Why don’t they tell you that in health class? According to the 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth, conducted by the CDC, “One in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining pregnancy.”

So what goes wrong? What causes infertility? About one-third of infertility is attributed to the female partner, but women aren’t the only ones who can experience reproductive challenges. Men can have plenty of trouble in the baby-making arena too. Joshua U. Klein, M.D. Fertility Specialist, explains, “Sperm issues such as low sperm count or abnormal/unhealthy sperm are the primary problem in 25% to 35% of infertile couples.” Having trouble getting pregnant and not sure where to start? You’re not alone. First you have to identify the problem before you can seek treatment. Here are 8 signs that could indicate infertility in men.

1. Inability to conceive a child


One of the main signs of infertility in men, or women for that matter, is the non-conception of a child after a certain period of time. Experts recommend different things but, generally speaking, if you try to conceive a baby by having unprotected sexual intercourse for one year with no success you should consult with a doctor.

2. Irregularities in the testicular region

It’s no secret that men can be somewhat, um, touchy, about their manhood and what is going on below the belt. But if you are struggling to get pregnant you might need to assess the equipment to make sure everything is working properly. Check the testicular region for any irregular symptoms such as lumps or pain, which might be signs of something more serious.

3. Problems with sexual function

A man and a woman with intimacy problems

Sometimes it’s not just about having the right tools, but also the ability to use them that can make a difference. Even if your man seems perfectly healthy, problems in the bedroom such as difficulty with ejaculation, reduced sexual desire or erectile dysfunction might be preventing you from getting pregnant. It might not be the most fun conversation to have (again, men can be very sensitive on the topic), but it is important to seek help and be honest about any sexual obstacles you are experiencing.

4. Chronic respiratory infections

Recurrent respiratory infections can be a sign of a more serious underlying illness that might be causing infertility. It’s important to note all symptoms and report any sickness to your doctor.

5. Drastic changes in facial or body hair

A man looking in the mirror with some fear

It’s no surprise that hormones play a huge role in your ability to reproduce. Look for signs that you might have hormonal irregularities such as drastic changes in your hair growth (or texture). A major shift in hair quality, and other signs such as changes in your complexion or a sudden outbreak of acne might indicate a hormonal abnormality that could impact your attempts to get pregnant.

6. Prior surgeries in the genital area

Even if your man underwent surgery years ago and seems to be perfectly healthy in the genital area, make sure he gets thoroughly checked out by a doctor to be certain that there are no lingering symptoms or side effects from a previous procedure.

7. Prior problems with testicles or prostate


Current or past issues with the testicles or prostate can indicate a reproductive problem that will prevent the healthy release of sperm necessary to get pregnant. These are very possible signs of infertility in men.

8. Visible changes in the genital area

Look for visible signs of change or abnormality in the genital area. Be on the lookout for dilated veins or swelling, which might indicate a blockage that could be preventing the passage of sperm.

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