What are some external causes of infertility?

External Causes of Infertility

Since infertility affects both men and women, it is reasonable that there are many different causes. The majority of these causes are internal, such as structural problems within the reproductive organs, while others are related to external factors.

Some of the more common external factors related to infertility include:

  • trauma to the genitals or pelvis
  • surgical complications or incidents
  • acquired infections
  • chemicals or medications
Trauma to the genital organs or pelvis can be caused by straddle injuries, car accidents or falls that result in pelvic fractures, kick injuries to the groin, assaults and even sports injuries. Injuries that can occur as a result of trauma, include, but may not be limited to:

  • torn or crushed ducts
  • bruising, swelling and edema of the scrotum and testicles
  • nerve injuries from crushing of the groin tissues
  • lacerations/tears of the external genitalia which can cause scarring and impede sexual relations
  • lacerations/tears of the fallopian tubes or uterus
  • stab or bullet injuries to the scrotum or uterus
Surgical complications which can decrease fertility include:

  • accidental severing of pelvic nerves
  • accidental tearing or severing of blood vessels in the pelvis, leading to the reproductive organs
  • surgery related scarring (adhesions) which cause blockages in tubes and ducts
  • post-surgical infections of the internal genital organs
  • hemorrhage (uncontrolled bleeding) which results in emergent removal of reproductive organs
Acquired infections can include:

  • sexually transmitted diseases: chlamydia, syphilis or gonorrhea which can cause scarring, inflammation and tissue death
  • peritonitis - infection in the abdominal/pelvic cavity usually following surgery or rupture of an organ (appendix)
  • pelvic inflammatory disease, in women, which can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes
  • urethritis - infection of the urethra usually in men, which can cause erectile problems
Chemical or medication causes of infertility can include: exposure to heavy metals or environmental poisons, and some prescription medications such as high blood pressure medication, antidepressants and narcotics, all of which can effect libido, erection, sperm and ova production and the ability to carry a fetus to term.

Though the internal causes of infertility may be more numerous, we cannot forget to examine the external causes, as well, to best assess and address infertility. Talk to your Infertility Specialist about other causes of infertility and the best way to treat them.

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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.