Male Fertility


Low T and Male Infertility: How Popular Low T Treatments Can Interfere with Conception

Hormone balance and function are foundational to human reproduction. In men, testosterone levels that fall below a normal range can affect sexual drive and performance, and cause a great deal of frustration. Commonly prescribed Low T treatments address the symptoms, but can actually contribute to male infertility.

For couples trying to get pregnant, Dr. Dan Gehlbach at Midwest Reproductive Center specializes in restoring fertility and treating female hormone imbalances. When a couple reveals that the male partner is currently on a testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), Dr. Gehlbach will recommend consulting with the prescribing physician. There are alternative treatments that can level out testosterone, without impairing fertility.

Hormonal Function and Male Fertility: Explaining the Role of Testosterone

As a reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Gehlbach pursued a sub-specialty in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to hormonal function. When a couple appears to have male factors contributing to infertility, Dr. Gehlbach will reinforce the importance of hormonal response in the reproductive process:

    • The pituitary gland in the brain serves as a control center for male fertility.
    • Hormonal signals (a gonadotropin-releasing hormone called LH—luteinizing hormone) from the brain instruct the testes to manufacture testosterone.
    • Testosterone regulates male sexual characteristics, from facial hair to muscle mass, and is essential to healthy sperm.
    • When signals are interrupted, or fail to occur, and the male sex glands produce little or no hormones, infertility may occur.

The Reproductive Risks of Testosterone Replacement Therapy

A testosterone replacement therapy, in which artificial hormones are administered by patch, gel or injection, interferes with sperm production, essentially “shutting down” hormonal signals.

Low T treatments cause testosterone levels to artificially rise; the brain subsequently instructs the testes to stop producing testosterone in the testes. The result of Low T treatment: Sperm production diminishes. Male infertility issues ensue.

Low T treatments have such a profound effect on sperm quality that you may see them marketed one day as a form of birth control.

A Fertility Doctor’s Approach to Low T: Finding the Cause, Prescribing a Treatment

When a couple consults with Dr. Gehlbach, they can expect comprehensive fertility testing for the female partner. Male infertility factors are diagnosed through a series of semen analysis tests, blood work and conversations about health history.

When Dr. Gehlbach and the highly skilled andrologists in the Midwest Reproductive Center IVF lab determine a low sperm count from semen analysis, blood work will confirm testosterone levels. At this point, Dr. Gehlbach can offer medical intervention: Fertility treatments such as IUI and IVF address the problems caused by a low sperm count.

Additionally, Dr. Gehlbach can have a conversation with the consulting physician regarding the best course of action; i.e. suspending Low T treatment while the couple tries to conceive.

Causes of testosterone deficiency include: age, diabetes, obesity and insufficient Vitamin D. Lifestyle changes can also enhance fertility. You may not be aware that a body mass index above the normal range can affect sperm quality and testosterone levels.

If your partner is experiencing low T symptoms and you wish to start a family, contact Midwest Reproductive Center for a consultation with Dr. Gehlbach.