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Treatments for male infertility

Bradley D Anawalt, MD
Stephanie T Page, MD, PhD
Section Editors
Peter J Snyder, MD
Alvin M Matsumoto, MD
Deputy Editor
Kathryn A Martin, MD


In the United States, infertility in a couple is defined as the inability to achieve conception despite one year of frequent, unprotected intercourse (figure 1) [1]. This topic provides an overview of the treatments of male infertility. The causes and approach to evaluation of male infertility are reviewed separately. (See "Approach to the male with infertility" and "Causes of male infertility".)


In studies of untreated couples pursuing pregnancy, 50 percent conceived within three months, 70 percent within six months, and 85 percent within 12 months (figure 1) [1]. Up to 50 percent of young, healthy couples who fail to conceive in the first 12 months will conceive in the next 12 months [2]. Therefore, it might be appropriate to delay invasive reproductive techniques in couples where the female partner has normal menstrual cycles, the male partner has normal semen analyses, and neither partner has an identifiable cause of infertility.

Categories of male infertility — The causes of male infertility can be divided into four main areas (table 1):

Endocrine and systemic disorders (usually related to secondary [hypogonadotropic] hypogonadism) – 2 to 5 percent.

Primary testicular defects in spermatogenesis – 65 to 80 percent, of which the majority have idiopathic dysspermatogenesis, an isolated defect in spermatogenesis without an identifiable cause.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 31, 2017.
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