Male infertility plays a role in 25% of infertile couples (couples who fail to conceive after 1 year of unprotected intercourse). Known causes of male infertility include primary hypogonadism (30–40%), disorders of sperm transport (10–20%), and secondary hypogonadism (2%), with an unknown etiology in up to half of men with suspected male factor infertility. Impaired spermatogenesis occurs with testosterone deficiency but may also be present without testosterone deficiency. Y chromosome microdeletions and substitutions, viral orchitis, tuberculosis, STDs, radiation, chemotherapeutic agents, and environmental toxins have all been associated with isolated impaired spermatogenesis. Prolonged elevations of testicular temperature, as in varicocele, in cryptorchidism, or after an acute febrile illness, may impair spermatogenesis. Ejaculatory obstruction can be a congenital (cystic fibrosis, in utero diethylstilbestrol exposure, or idiopathic) or acquired (vasectomy, accidental ligation of the vas deferens, or obstruction of the epididymis). Androgen abuse by male athletes can lead to testicular atrophy and a low sperm count.
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