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Male Reproductive Basics

Learn more about male reproductive basics and common issues that cause male fertility challenges

Understanding male reproductive basics helps patients at our fertility center in Connecticut navigate the process of building a family. Because male factor infertility accounts for about 40% of fertility issues in the United States, it can be helpful for men and women to expand their awareness of the male reproductive system. Having this knowledge supports patients in making more informed decisions about fertility treatments and can lessen feelings of confusion and overwhelm.

A simple outline of male reproductive basics and how the sperm reaches the egg

The male reproductive system consists of the external genitals, which include the penis, testes and scrotum, and the internal parts that include the prostate gland, vas deferens and urethra. Reproductive hormones, such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and testosterone, also play an important role in the reproductive system.

For the male reproductive system to contribute to a pregnancy without the support of a fertility specialist, it must produce and release healthy sperm that can reach the egg. This process relies on various factors.

Production and release. Sperm develop in the testicles within a system of tiny tubes. During ejaculation, the contraction of muscles around the reproductive organs causes semen to move through the duct system and out the urethra.

Protection and motility. After ejaculation, semen forms a gel that protects sperm from the acidity of the vagina. Sperm must also propel themselves through the cervix. Not all sperm are able to travel through the layers of cervical mucus protecting the entrance to the uterus. During ovulation, this cervical mucus creates a more hospitable environment for sperm by becoming thinner and less acidic.

Capacitation. Sperm must convert to a form that allows them to penetrate the cell membrane of the egg.

Fallopian tube access. Contractions in the uterus cause sperm to move up into the fallopian tubes, where one can fertilize an egg.

Our fertility center in Connecticut helps patients overcome the obstacles that might occur during the sperm’s journey to fertilize the egg.

Discover the conditions that can impede the male reproductive system

When learning about male reproductive basics, it’s important to explore common causes of male factor infertility, such as sperm production challenges, anatomical issues and certain immune disorders. These issues can prevent the production and release of healthy sperm.

Abnormal sperm production. If a man has a low sperm count, or problems with the movement or shape of his sperm, it could be difficult for his sperm to reach and fertilize the egg.

Obstacles in the anatomy or structure of reproductive organs. Barriers such as scar tissue; varicose veins around the testicles, also called varicocele; or an infection can block the path of sperm out of the man’s body.

Immune system disorders. Certain immune system disorders can cause a man’s body to produce antibodies that attack and weaken sperm.

Additional causes of male factor infertility. A man might also experience fertility difficulties because of genetic defects, testicular trauma, hormonal imbalances, or exposure to radiation and certain medications.

To determine why a man is having fertility issues, the doctor at our fertility center in Connecticut will review the patient’s medical records and recommend certain fertility tests. Typically, a semen analysis is the most important test, as it allows the doctor to assess the quality and quantity of the man’s sperm.

After determining the cause of the patient’s male factor infertility, the doctor works with him to create an effective treatment plan, with a goal of creating a healthy pregnancy.

Contact us to learn more about male reproductive basics and male factor infertility.