Male fertility – symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment

Male Fertility

For most men trying for a baby can become an ideal opportunity to increase the frequency that you and your partner have sex, especially as your partner is more likely to initiate sex more often in her quest to conceive.

Baby making sex can bring a new element of spontanaity and excitement back into the bedroom. However, if you’ve been trying to conceive for some time with no results then things can change dramatically from baby making sex to sex to make a baby sex, at this stage sex may start to become more anxious and lose its intimacy.

Your bathroom becomes full of vitamins to increase sperm count and ovulation kits where some men may feel reduced to nothing but a sperm donor. Trying to conceive can place a great deal of stress on your relationship and its important to remember that many couples go through this and there are a number of things a man can do to improve your chances.

Does sperm health affect male fertility?

Resolving sperm health issues is integral and is one of the easiest ways to get pregnant. In fact, sperm health problems account for approximately 75% of all male fertility problems. That’s why taking care of sperm health is a crucial step on you and your partner s path towards getting pregnant. There are many things that can affect sperm health such as diet, weight, alcohol, drugs and smoking.

There are a variety of simple lifestyle changes that you can make in order to drastically improve the health of your sperm. In addition, vaginal lubricants are a common product that can have a serious effect on sperm health because of the chemicals they include. Lubricants such as spermicides, oils, and Vaseline all affect fertility and limit the sperm count that gets to the egg as well.

Sperm health is vital to increasing a couples chances of getting pregnant. While certain genetic conditions might affect a mans sperm health, there are a variety of factors, ranging from environmental to lifestyle, that also influences male fertility. As such, men can follow simple sperm health tips in order to increase fertility and thus improving their partner s chances of getting pregnant.

Improving male fertility

More than 2.5 million men in Britain may be suffering from fertility problems, with high rates of smoking, stress and drinking believed to be contributory factors.

The following can help in improving the health of your sperm and increase your chances of getting pregnant:

  • Don t smoke. Smoking is linked to sperm health problems. While smoking has not been linked to a lowered sperm count, it does cause damage to sperm DNA, which results in an increased risk of birth defects in a mans children. In addition, it affects sperm motility, sperm lifespan and because it takes three months for sperm to fully form it is imperative to quit smoking at least three months prior to trying to get pregnant in order to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
  • Don t do drugs. Drug use also negatively influences sperm health. If you use cocaine or heavy amounts of marijuana, this can reduce the number and quality of your sperm by as much as 50%! Marijuana impairs the sperm by hurting the sperm s ability to swim and by inhibiting its ability to penetrate the egg.
  • Limit your alcohol intake. Reducing your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks a day is also important to male fertility. In fact, excessive drinking can lead to impotence.
  • Try herbal solutions. Herbal remedies, such as green tea and gingko, are excellent ways of increasing male fertility. Gingko helps to improve sperm health by promoting blood circulation to the capillaries. Green tea benefits include helping to improve overall health, as well as reproductive health.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.Because being either overweight or underweight can influence sperm health, maintaining a healthy weight is crucial in order to increase male fertility. A BMI of less than 20 or of more than 25 can reduce a mans sperm count by 22%. Your BMI can be calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. Following a healthy diet that is low in saturated and trans fats and that is high in folic acid, zinc, selenium, vitamins A, C and E is essential to staying healthy. Exercise can also help to maintain a good weight.
  • Exercise. While everyone will tell you that you should exercise, you need to be careful about what type of exercise you select. While bicycling is certainly good for your heart, it s not always great for your sperm. Bicycling has actually been linked to impotence in men and it can affect the sperm count. The pressure on the bike seat is thought to damage blood vessels and nerves that are needed for erections. Mountain biking, in particular, puts extra shock and vibrations on the perineum and increases the risk to the scrotum.
  • Get sun exposure. A healthy amount of sun exposure is linked to increased levels of testosterone, which in turn is connected to healthy sperm production. In addition, sun exposure is linked to lower levels of melatonin, which are known to negatively impact male fertility.
  • Don t overdo it. Studies have shown that ejaculating more than twice a day can have a negative effect on male fertility. This is because it takes some time for sperm levels to rise again following ejaculation. Nonetheless, it is important to have intercourse with your partner on a regular basis because sperm that is not ejaculated becomes old and less fertile, thereby reducing the chances of getting pregnant.
  • Avoid heat. Overheating of the testicles can reduce sperm health. It is important for men to avoid wearing tight fitting pants and undergarments, as well as to avoid hot baths and hot tubs. Also, placing a laptop on a table or desk as opposed to directly on the body also reduces the risk of sperm health damage.
  • Reduce stress. Stress is a major contributing factor to sperm health problems. In fact, 15% of men experience decreased libido because of stress, while 5% of men experience impotence because of it. Practicing relaxation methods such as Pilates can help to minimize stress, as does participating in regular exercise.

A lifestyle change can have a dramatically positive effect on your chances of getting pregnant, but if these changes haven t after worked after a year if you are under 35 and after 6 months if you are over 35 then it is important that you make an appointment to see a doctor.

Male fertility problems… what next?

Several conditions can affect a man’s fertility. First off, ductal and structural abnormalities can cause low fertility but can often be reversed by surgery. Oligospermia is a condition characterized by low sperm count whereas azoospermia is a condition in which there is a total absence of sperm in a man’s semen. In men with Klinefelter s Syndrome, a chromosomal abnormality can result in infertility. Epididymitis is a condition in which the epididymis becomes inflamed, leading to sperm health problems and in rare cases male infertility, while occlusion is a blockage of the male reproductive system that affects the movement of sperm.

Testicular failure, immunological infertility and hypogonadism are other sperm health conditions that can affect male fertility. Read more about these conditions and discover different treatment options that can help improve your fertility.

If low sperm count has been attributed as one of the factors.

IVF treatment is a physically and emotionally draining experience for women, but also for men. Often, because the female partner undergoes the drug treatment and the physical procedures, the strain on her husband or boyfriend can be overlooked.

Women are generally quite upset when IVF fails and they don’t conceive at the end of a cycle of treatment. Some women feel emotionally devastated, and are confused by their male partner’s lack of an equally strong reaction. This can lead to misunderstanding and perhaps even resentment between partners. Research has found, however, that men also experience feelings of anger, frustration and even grief when IVF fails, but don’t express it in the same way that women do. Also, more male partners than female partners have reported feelings of extreme worry during the IVF process. If you are going through IVF and your man is behaving out of character or is clearly under stress, here are some of the possible reasons why…

Loss Of Masculinity

As a woman, you may have feelings of inadequacy due to your inability to conceive. Don’t forget that your male partner may be experiencing the same thing. This could lead to a perceived loss, in his mind, of his masculinity, especially if the fertility problem is related to the quality of his sperm. Even if the fertility problem lies with you, he could be afraid of the “stigma” attached to IVF, and what other people might think. He could also be worried about whether or not he will be able to produce semen on demand – exactly when it is needed – which is, of course, an essential part of the IVF procedure.

Loss Of Control

During IVF you may feel like your body is no longer your own. Your fertility, your future, in fact, is largely in the hands of the doctors treating you. Your partner could be experiencing a similar sense of loss of control and frustration. This might be especially hard for him to accept, if up until now he has seen it as his job to take care of you and provide a secure future for you both.

It’s normal to worry

He could simply be really, really worried about you. You are taking all kinds of fertility drugs which may or may not have some adverse effects on your health, you’re probably very tired and you have a lot invested emotionally in this process. He’s probably worried about what will happen if you don’t get pregnant and maybe even what will happen if you do (given the risk of multiple pregnancies associated with IVF). He might also be feeling the financial strain and is worried about providing for you and, hopefully, a baby. IVF is an expensive treatment.

What Can Me Do?

Both you and your man should take advantage of the counselling available at your IVF clinic. You need to make time to talk to each other about the experience of IVF but also for maintaining some quality of life and doing the things you enjoy together.

You can help to increase his sense of control by encouraging him to get informed about the procedure and what he can expect to happen. The information on this website would be a great place for him to start. You can also minimize stress during the treatment cycle by preparing for important decisions in advance. For example, you should talk about whether or not you want to transfer all the fertilized embryos to your uterus or, if you do get pregnant with multiples, whether or not you would agree to a multi-fetal reduction.

The Good News for men

Although nearly all couples say that IVF puts them under a certain degree of stress, many see an improvement in their relationship during and after treatment. For men struggling with male fertility problems then having good communication and understanding with their partner can help the experience of working through the cycle together may help bring you and your partner closer.

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Editorial Team
Fertility Road aims to inform and inspire in a manner which is honest, direct and empathetic. Our worldwide expert writers break down the science and deliver relevant, up-to-date insights into everything related to IVF.

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