Talking about infertility isn’t always easy. Infertility can be a bit of a forbidden topic in many social circles. And even when the matter is brought up there’s an often unspoken assumption that fertility issues are just a women’s health matter. This assumption, however, is incorrect.
Fertility issues can affect both men and women. Because of this, it’s important that both men and women receive the feedback and support they need when they’re having trouble conceiving. It’s also important for couples who want to conceive to get the facts about how both infertility and subfertility issues in either partner could be delaying their efforts to start a family.
How Common Is Male Infertility?
The most recent available data suggests that infertility affects around 7% of all men, compared to about 10% of women. Additionally, about 40% of infertile couples can trace all or some of their fertility issues back to the male partner. These numbers help show that infertility is certainly not just a woman’s health issue. These numbers are also why couples who are having trouble conceiving should visit doctors together when looking for answers to fertility questions. Additionally, both men and women should consider taking steps to address any habits or health issues that may negatively affect their ability to conceive.
What Causes Male Infertility Or Subfertility?
There are many medical reasons that men may experience difficulty conceiving. For the most part, these reasons can be categorized as one of four main infertility or subfertility issues.
- Sperm production problems: In many cases, the production of low quality sperm is a cause of male fertility issues. A man’s sperm are considered “low quality” when they are abnormally shaped or don’t move or swim correctly. Another well-known example of sperm-related infertility is a low sperm count, meaning that a man’s ejaculation contains fewer sperm than average, making conception more difficult. Sperm counts and the overall health of sperm may be affected by a number of things, including genetics, previous infections, a varicocele, and the use of or exposure to certain medications and chemicals.
- Blockage of sperm transport: Some fertility issues are caused by blockages in the genital tract that affect the flow of seminal fluid. When this happens a man’s sperm are unable to leave the testes and cannot be ejaculated into the vagina. Many blockages can be the result of a congenital issue or a genetic defect. In other cases blockages are caused by scar tissue from a previous infection surgery, absence or malfunction of the vas deferens, or the presence of varicose veins in the scrotum.
- Erection & Ejaculation problems: Men who regularly experience performance issues, such as erectile dysfunction or the failure to ejaculate, are unfortunately likely to have difficulty successfully fertilizing an egg. Performance issues can occur for physical and physiological reasons, and in some cases are due to certain medications or medical issues.
- Hormonal problems: Men who experience surges or dips in certain hormone levels, particularly testosterone, are more likely to have difficulty conceiving. Since hormones are affected by multiple environmental factors, drug use and medical conditions alike, any number of reasons may be to blame for this particular issue.
Can I Do Something About Male Infertility At Home?
Maybe! There are several reasons that men may experience infertility or subfertility. Some of these reasons can be addressed or worked around right in the comfort of your own home, while others may require medical help.
If you have been trying to conceive without success for a year, it’s a good idea to review both your daily habits and medical history in search of a possible reason behind the delay. You should also plan on meeting with a doctor after one year. While some cases of subfertility can be addressed easily at home, your doctor can still give personalized advice based on your age, overall health, and your medical history. Depending on their review of your habits and medical history, they may also run tests to determine the cause of your sub- or infertility. The results of these tests can then assist in your ongoing efforts to start a family.
Infertility is difficult to talk about no matter which partner it affects. While it can be hard to think about this potential issue, it’s important to do so to help ensure that couples have time to take control of their fertility needs. There are a range of treatment options currently available for male fertility issues – speaking with a doctor will help you determine which at-home methods, therapists, or other treatments could help your conception efforts.