Years of whispered conversations and media coverage have seemed to skew the issue of infertility, placing the blame on the shoulders of the female. The truth is, however, male factor infertility can be attributed to at nearly half of all cases of infertility in a couple.
Yes – infertility can affect both men and women. How can a man find out if he is the cause behind a couple’s troubles in conceiving? When you decide to start fertility treatments, a simple, non-invasive semen analysis test will evaluate semen and sperm health will be performed by a urologist or fertility specialist before any other treatments are tried to determine whether male-factor infertility is at play.
From biological to situational, there are many things that can affect a mans fertility, but there are also steps you can take to improve your chances of starting a family of your own.
Your Age Plays A Factor
A woman’s biological clock is talked about so often the idea is almost cliche, but men also experience fertility decline with age, though it occurs later in life than it does for a woman.
There is a decline in testosterone in men over 50, and this can impact sperm function. And, though men continue to create sperm, there is a marked decrease in the number of healthy sperm, and the motility of sperm produced. Likewise, an older man’s sperm may have more DNA damage, and these changes may mean it will take longer for a couple to conceive, as well as an increased risk for genetic abnormalities in their offspring.
Smoking Can Hurt Your Sperm Count
Cigarette smoking is bad for your health, but your lungs aren’t the only thing suffering. The toxins in cigarettes can negatively affect your sperm count, shape and motility, all key factors in conception. IVF treatment has been found to be poorer in male smokers.
While you’re at it, you should also consider cutting back or cutting out the use of marijuana and other recreational drug use, including anabolic steroids (used for body building).
Binge Drinking Can Hurt Semen Health Too
Another factor in lower sperm counts, poor sperm motility and poor sperm shape, excessive alcohol consumption.
Too Much Heat Is A Bad Thing
Boxers or briefs? You may fear those uncomfortable undies are restricting, but more importantly, those and other tight fitting clothes trap heat against the body and raise the temperature of the testicles – one of the top causes of infertility in men.
Have you ever wondered why a mans testicles are on the outside of the body? Research has discovered this is because the ideal temperature for sperm production is three to four degrees below normal body temperature. A warmer environment may affect sperm count, slashing it by about 40 per cent every one degree of rise. To avoid overheating the testicles while you’re trying to conceive, steer clear of saunas, hot tubs, heating blankets, waterbeds, and excessive exercise, like biking.
Your Weight Affects More Than Your Heart Health
Your GP may not include semen health in the list of things being under- or overweight can affect, but it can play an important role in fertility. It has been found that men with a BMI below 20 can have a lower sperm concentration and sperm counts, while men who are classified as obese have been found to have lower testosterone and lower sperm counts.
Eliminating male-factor infertility at the beginning ensures that both partners don’t undergo an immeasurable amount of physical and emotional stress in vain. Couples should seek testing and treatment if they don’t conceive after a year of unprotected sex (or six months, if the woman is age 35 or older).