Health & Diet

11 Things You Should Know About Male Infertility

Portrait_15_A young man_Noam Chen_IMOT
Photo by Israel_photo_gallery

Usually, most people think that women are responsible for infertility. However, in reality, infertility is often linked to health problems with men. About 50% of conception problems are linked to male infertility.

1. Age is important for men

You probably know that female fertility declines with age. The woman who is 30-year-old has a 20% chance of conceiving, while a woman who is 40-year-old has only a 5% chance.

However, male fertility is also affected by age, but not as drastically as in women. Unlike the 70-year-old woman, the 70-year-old man can still be capable of fathering a child naturally. Therefore, age should be considered when you’re planning your family.

According to research, male fertility and sperm health decreases with age. Male age is also linked to an increased risk of miscarriage, the passing on of genetic problems and even some birth defects. Also, increased male age is linked to increased rates of schizophrenia and autism.

2. Sexually transmitted infections

STIs or sexually transmitted infections can cause infertility in men if it’s not treated promptly. If an infection is left untreated, it can lead to scar tissue within the reproductive tract of the male, which makes semen transfer ineffective or even impossible.

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Visit your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection, and if you are at risk to contracting a sexually transmitted infection, get a regular check even if you’re without symptoms. In case you are having a sexually transmitted infection you can unknowingly pass it on to your female partner. By doing so, there is a chance that her fertility is damaged.

3. Smoking

Smoking is a bad habit which can affect sperm shape, sperm counts, and sperm movement. These are all important factors for conception and you should care about them if you are planning to be a father.

It has been also found that male smokers have poorer success with IVF treatment, even when IVF with ICSI is used. ICSI means that a single sperm was taken and directly injected into an egg.

Dropping the habit can reverse some of the negative effects on your health, and one of the may be connected to erectile dysfunction. Both active and passive smoking affect fertility. Actually, passive smoking is only slightly less harmful to fertility compared to active smoking. Smokers are also more likely to have fertility issues and they take longer to conceive.

4. Heat isn’t good for sperm

Heat is bad for sperm. Wearing extremely tight underwear or shorts can have an impact on sperm health.

Other sources of sperm-troubling heat include sitting with a laptop on your lap, hot or long hot baths, or sitting for prolonged periods of time with your legs together (while driving long distances or sitting at a desk job).

The heat damaging effects can have a longer lasting consequence than you would imagine. According to a study, men who went to a sauna twice a week, for only 15 minutes, over a period of three months had the decrease in sperm count and movement, and also more DNA-damaged sperm. Those men were again evaluated three and six months after they stopped attending the sauna. Even after six months sperm health wasn’t completely regained.

5. Men infertility is not as rare as you think

Couples are advised to look for testing and treatment if they cannot conceive after one year of unprotected sex, or six months if the women are 36-year-old or older.

Often, the woman will see her gynecologist for an evaluation, but man must also be evaluated. Men infertility is responsible for up to half of all infertile couples. Before any treatments are tried, a semen analysis should be done, which is a non-invasive test that evaluates sperm and semen health.

If a male factor is involved, and you choose treatments before evaluating male fertility, your partner will go through both the emotional and physical stress for no reason. Visit a urologist or fertility specialist for the semen analysis, or even the gynecologist can order the test for you.

6. Toxic chemicals at your workplace

When you are at work pay attention if there are any toxic chemicals in your environment. If that is a case then you can be at bigger risk for decreased sperm health and infertility.

Metal workers, welders, varnishes, painters, and farmers are all at risk for decreased fertility.

If you are exposed to a variety of toxic chemicals while you’re working there is a good chance that a toxin ends up in your food and water, invading your body and affecting your organs and potentially causing fertility problems. Talk to your doctor if your job involves high heat conditions or toxic chemical contract. There might be some steps you can take in order to protect yourself.

7. Usually, but not always, male infertility is symptomless

Most of the time, male infertility has no obvious symptoms. Usually, the first sign of infertility in men is being unable to conceive. You can be healthy and still have compromised fertility.

It is important to note that you can have both male infertility and a great sex life. This is contrary to the myth that sexual prowess and fertility aren’t related. However, there are several symptoms and risk factors to look out for. See your urologist before you start trying to conceive, if you notice any of these

symptoms or risk factors:

– Swelling, pain, or a lump in the testicular area
– Low sex drive
– Trouble maintaining or having an erection
– If you were treated for a sexually transmitted infection
– You have an undescended testicle

8. Too many alcoholic drinks

According to the studies, people who consume several drinks a week won’t have any damage, but excessive drinking is connected to poor sperm movements, sperm counts, and poor sperm shape.

It has been also found that with every additional drink consumed per week, the success rate of the IVF decreases. The correlation between time to conception and alcohol, or waiting time to pregnancy, appears to be controversial.

Another study has shown that women consuming 8 or more drinks a week experienced a longer delay to conception compared with women who don’t drink. Also, one more study has shown a longer delay to pregnancy, even if a woman consumed only five or fewer drinks a week. It’s recommended that couples limit themselves to less than five glasses of champagne or wine a week, and avoid liquors with high alcohol content.

9. Delaying test and treatment can decrease your chances for pregnancy success

Although it is recommended to seek help after one year of trying, according to surveys, many couples don’t do it.

There are a lot of reasons for this, such as concerns about the possible cost of treatments, anxiety about fertility testing, thinking that once you have had a child, there is no way you’re infertile or misunderstandings such as thinking all infertility have obvious causes and symptoms.

There is a chance that you cannot have a child even though you already have one and it’s called secondary infertility. It is important to know that certain causes of infertility get worse with time. Therefore, the sooner you get evaluated, the better your chances can be to pregnancy success. Also, this applies to both male and female testing. In case you are worried about the costs, you should know that the majority of infertile couples can be treated with lower-cost treatments.

10. Weight

Being under or overweight can have the negative effects on the health of semen. Obese men have been found to have lower sperm counts and lower levels of testosterone, while men with an MBI below 20 have been found to have lower sperm counts and sperm concentration.

Obese and overweight men have worse quality of sperm compared to men of healthy weight. Being obese or overweight can also cause hormonal changes which reduce fertility and men less interested in sex. Overweight men are also more likely to have problems getting an erection. Therefore, these factors reduce the chances of men who are obese or overweight fathering a child.

11. At-home sperm analysis tests are not as good as tests done in a laboratory

Many men are nervous about the analysis of semen, and many of them turn to the internet in hopes of taking an anonymous test.

However, these mail-based semen analysis tests are actually not as accurate as the tests done in a laboratory with semen which is fresh. In fact, in order to get the best test results, the sample should be delivered to the laboratory within an hour of collection.

Most at-home sperm tests measure semen volume and sperm count, but they cannot evaluate sperm movement and these tests rarely look at the shape of the sperm. That said, you can have an excellent sperm count, but if the sperm are all poorly shaped, or they are not moving properly, you may still be infertile. In case you are considered about being fertility, visit your doctor and get an accurate test done.

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