Testosterone is typically prescribed for men who have signs or complaints of reduced testicular hormone production. These signs include a reduction in libido (reduced sexual desire), tiredness, problems achieving an erection, problems with memory and low sperm count. Some men may not have any of these symptoms but still have reduced testosterone production. Many of these men are prescribed testosterone hormone by their doctors to treat these symptoms. However, while testosterone may effectively treat many of the above symptoms, it may lead to a further reduction in a man’s sperm count.
A recent study by Samplaski and colleagues in a respected journal looked at how frequently men with infertility problems were prescribed testosterone to treat their symptoms. Of the 4400 men who were evaluated at their infertility clinic, 59 (1.3%) reported taking testosterone. 88% of these men were found to have no sperm in their semen. However, after stopping the testosterone supplementation, 65% of these men were again found to have sperm in their semen.
It is apparent that some doctors are unaware that testosterone treatment in infertile men may further reduce sperm counts. While testosterone is successful in treating many of the symptoms that men with low levels complain of, it should be avoided in men who have problems with fertility. Depending on the cause of the symptoms, there are other medications that can treat the common symptoms but not affect the sperm count.