Male Infertility - A Common Side Effect of Testosterone Treatments
When couples are facing the challenges of infertility, the overwhelming amount of information available to them can be difficult to process. Prior to being evaluated by a specialist, many couples will try to treat themselves, using whatever remedy they may believe will benefit them most. Whether they receive advice from family or friends, or scour the internet for the most recent supplement or trend, they may begin to treat themselves. And unfortunately, the exact treatment that they think is being so helpful may in fact be lowering their chances to almost zero.
For men in this scenario, the common sense outlook seems simple, right? If I’m having a problem with fertility, I should obviously start using testosterone. Everything I am currently hearing on the radio tells me that testosterone will restore my virility, improve my sexual function, and make me more of a man. This will obviously help my chances of conception. Right?
Nothing could be further from the truth. Exogenous testosterone can serve as a method of contraception and lower sperm counts for men to zero in many cases. For men who use testosterone, either illicitly or even with a prescription given to them by a doctor, the body is fooled into thinking that it is producing enough testosterone, and in turn starts making less of its own. The indirect effect from this is a significant decrease in sperm production. The body needs its own testosterone to produce sperm, and it cannot use that which is being given by an external source. Unfortunately, this concept is not widely recognized by physicians and even by some urologists, and it is extremely common for men to be treated in this manner.
I see many men in my practice who finally get tested for fertility after they are unable to conceive, and are found to have no sperm on a routine semen analysis. After further discussion, it becomes clear that they have been given testosterone, or are using some sort of supplement. Fortunately, stopping the testosterone immediately will generally allow the body to resume sperm production over a period of months. Occasionally, additional treatments can be offered to expedite this process.
It is an extremely simple concept, yet one that needs more awareness. Men, if you are struggling with fertility, the last thing you should be doing is using testosterone. And if you’ve been on testosterone for other reasons, recognize that this could be the reason why you are unable to conceive. Higher levels of testosterone should not be equated with virility and manhood when it comes to conception. The treatment you think you are using to help you could be the main thing preventing you from realizing your dream.