In 2016, infertility affected approximately 1 in 8 couples in the United States. It is a touchy subject for many men and women and the myths surrounding infertility can be confusing for couples trying to conceive. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive a child after one year of having regular unprotected sex. In one-third of infertile couples the problem lies with the male, not the female. Around 7% of reproductive-aged men will experience fertility problems in their lifetime. What causes male infertility? Can it be prevented or reversed? We’re digging into these issues today.
Myths Surrounding Male Infertility
Myth #1: Drinking wine is better for your fertility than hard liquor
It actually doesn’t matter what type of alcohol is being consumed.
Myth #2: Tight pants/undergarments can affect your chances of conceiving
While tight pants can cause urinary tract infections, overactive bladders, and twisted testicles, they don’t directly cause infertility. The real culprit is heat. Testicles function their best when they are a little cooler than body temperature. When pressed up against the body in tight pants, their temperature rises. Higher temperatures can cause decreased sperm activity as well as lowered sperm count.
Myth #3: A man’s fertility doesn’t change with age the way a woman’s does
The quality of a man’s sperm decreases as they age, which means this myth is just that, a myth! Additionally, the risk of miscarriage increases, no matter the age of the woman.
Myth #4: There is no way to improve a man’s sperm count
There are ways to increase the number of sperm in a man’s semen. Regular exercise, vitamin C, minimal stress, and other supplements can help improve the quantity of sperm.
Signs of Infertility
Other than the inability to conceive a child, there are a few other symptoms and hints you should look for when it comes to male infertility. One of the most common symptoms stems from a low sperm count, or oligospermia. Another is a complete lack of sperm, called azoospermia. Sperm count is considered low if there are fewer than 15 million sperm per millimeter of semen.
If sperm count is low, the male may experience pain, swelling, or a lump in the testicular region, as well as issues with sexual function. Another symptom is lack of facial and body hair, which can be a sign of a chromosome or hormone abnormality.
Preventing Male Infertility
Certain lifestyle choices could be stopping you from conceiving. Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding these things:
- Heavy drinking
- Prolonged heat to genitals
- Stressful situations
Male infertility does not mean you won’t ever be able to conceive. Many of the issues affecting males are treatable and can even be prevented. For help getting pregnant or more information on fertility in men, be sure to sign up for our newsletter below.