Trouble having baby? Top 6 guys’ issues

Infertility is always one-third women’s problems, one- third men’s problems, and one-third “unknown”… We look at male fertility troubles.


We had to get to the bottom of that warning that hot laptops affect men’s fertility. So, we asked Dr Chin Chong Min, a senior consultant urologist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, if it’s true.

          He says it is a misconception that placing laptops over the thigh and crotch will affect fertility. Yes, the testicles need a lower temperature (36 degrees Celsius) to function — hence the advice against hot baths, tight pants and so on. But if you are not actively trying for a baby, some heat applied to the area for a short period of time will not affect you much. 

So what are the causes of infertility?

1) Genetic

Dr Chin says this refers to chromosomal defects like Klinefelter’s syndrome, Noonan’s syndrome and so on. The genetic defects are either something missing in the Y chromosome or an extra chromosome (XXY or XYY being an easy shorthand for that). The Y chromosome, being shorter than the X, is more likely to affect fertility if it has a defect.

2) Medical treatments and drugs

Dr Chin says fertility can also be affected by chemotherapy, radiotherapy, drug abuse, as well as specific medications (cimetidine for heartburn and ulcers, spironolactone for high blood pressure or heart failure, ketoconazole for fungus infections). Then, there are also the anabolic steroids, antidepressants, antihypertensives — all of which can affect your sperm production.

Your age is a factor, too: Sperm count and quality start to decline after 40

3) Varicocoeles

Another problem area — and possibly one reason that the laptop myth is so strong — is varicocoeles. Dr Peter Chew, a senior consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Gleneagles Medical Centre, describes these as enlarged veins in the scrotum. They cause the temperature in the testes to rise which can affect sperm production.

4) Sperm count and quality problem

Then there is the ever-popular “low sperm count, poor sperm motility or abnormally shaped sperm”. Dr Chew says, “These can be caused by hormonal imbalances, disease or infection of testes, the prostate and other genital organs.” 

Your age is a factor, too: Sperm count and quality start to decline after 40, he says. Last but not least, if a man had mumps complications , that could — in worst case scenarios — lead to shrunken testicles, abnormal sperm and other problems.

Click next to read the final two issues affecting men’s infertility, as well as what the doctors can do…