Also part of the UPMC family:

​ Male Infertility

To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, contact the Men’s Health Center at 1-877-641-4636 (4MEN).

Male Infertility Overview

Men are considered infertile if they produce too few sperm cells, sperm cells of poor quality, or have chronic problems with ejaculation.

Diagnosing Male Infertility

During the initial consult, both partners will be evaluated for infertility problems. The doctor will ask the patient about any symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.

During the physical exam, the doctor will look for varicoceles and any abnormalities that might cause infertility. Basic urine and blood tests will be performed.

The key test that will be performed is a semen analysis that evaluates several parameters:

  • Amount of semen
  • Consistency of semen
  • Number of sperm
  • Movement of sperm
  • Shape of sperm
  • "Clumping" of sperm
  • Presence of substances other than sperm in the semen

Other tests may include:

  • Ultrasound, which uses sound waves to examine structures inside the body
  • X-ray, which uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones
  • Fertilization tests to determine how well the sperm can penetrate an egg
  • Biopsy, in which a sample of testicle tissue is removed for testing
  • Blood tests for hormone evaluation and presence of anti-sperm antibodies
  • Post-coital test to check if your sperm are compatible with mucus in your partner's cervix

Male Infertility Treatment

Treatment will depend on the cause of the infertility. Infertility treatments can be costly and lengthy. They often are not covered by insurance. Be sure to check with your insurance company.

Lifestyle changes

The health care provider may first suggest life-style changes, such as:

  • Change the timing of sexual activity.
  • Avoid excessive heat (steam rooms, saunas).
  • Avoid tobacco, marijuana, and excessive alcohol use.
  • Wear looser fitting shorts and pants.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Try to decrease stress. Learn stress reduction techniques.


Hormonal imbalances can be treated with medications.


Surgery is sometimes performed to correct structural abnormalities.

Assisted reproductive technologies (ART)

ART involves using human sperm and eggs or embryos in a lab to help with conception. The eggs and sperm can be from the couple or can be donated. ART methods include:

  • Artificial Insemination. Semen is collected and processed in a lab and then inserted directly into the woman's cervix or uterus.
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). An egg is removed from the woman's body and mixed with sperm in a laboratory. The egg and sperm mixture or a 2- to 3-day-old embryo is then placed in the women's uterus.
  • Gamete or Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT or ZIFT). An egg is removed from the woman's body and mixed with sperm in a laboratory. The egg and sperm mixture or a 2- to 3-day-old embryo is then placed in the woman's fallopian tube.
  • Blastocyst Intrafallopian Transfer. An egg is removed from the woman's body, injected with sperm, and allowed to develop to an embryonic stage called the blastocyst. This multi-celled blastocyst is implanted into the woman's uterus.
  • Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. A single sperm is actually injected into the egg, rather than just combined with the egg. The resulting embryo can be implanted into the woman's uterus, or frozen for later use.