Understanding the Role of Testosterone in Male Fertility
Testosterone is a sex hormone that plays a significant role in the male reproductive system. Although most people possess a basic understanding of how testosterone relates to male sexual health, when it comes to understanding male fertility, the function of testosterone isn’t so straightforward.
Hormones act as chemical messengers transported through our bodies via the bloodstream. They regulate various functions in the body, such as metabolism, growth, and reproduction. In males, testosterone’s most essential responsibilities include the development of primary sex characteristics (genitalia and reproductive organs), secondary sex characteristics (body hair, voice pitch, bone structure, etc.), the production of sperm, and sex drive.
Low Testosterone and Male Infertility
Low testosterone in men, sometimes referred to as male hypogonadism, is a condition that can occur naturally at birth or later in life. If the condition develops during adulthood, it can lead to symptoms such as:
● Decreased libido
● Erectile dysfunction
● A decrease in hair growth and muscle mass
● Decreased energy and fatigue
Low testosterone in men can be caused by a wide range of natural, medical, and lifestyle factors, including:
● Genetic disorders
● Being obese or underweight
● Cancer treatments
● Pituitary disorders
Treatment for low testosterone generally involves developing a treatment plan that addresses any underlying conditions or lifestyle factors that are causing the imbalance. In some cases, additional medical measures may be necessary, which can include male hormone replacement therapy.
Once treated, many men with low testosterone are able to have a child. In some cases, especially if there are female infertility factors involved, doctors may recommend a combination of fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and sperm extraction.
High Testosterone and Male Infertility
It’s a common misconception that increased levels of testosterone in males equal increased virility. However, in order for hormones to function properly, they need to maintain a balanced equilibrium. Therefore, men can also experience infertility if their testosterone levels are too high.
High testosterone in males, also known as hypergonadism, can be caused by a number of underlying health and medical conditions, including:
● Benign and malignant tumors in the testicles
● Kidney and liver problems
● Autoimmune disorders
● Genetic abnormalities
Abnormally elevated levels of testosterone can also be caused by steroid usage or testosterone supplementation, even if prescribed by a doctor. High levels of testosterone can cause symptoms such as:
● High blood pressure
● High libido
● Excessive hair growth
● Low sperm count and infertility
Although it sounds counterintuitive, abnormally high levels of testosterone can actually decrease sperm production, especially if you are using steroids or supplements. One study that examined sperm counts in men found that 88.4% of men who took testosterone supplements without a medical need were azoospermic.
In many cases, fertility issues caused by testosterone imbalances can be treated. To learn more about testosterone and male fertility, or to schedule a consultation with a male fertility expert, please contact us today.