Struggling with infertility is a complex and nuanced experience. The emotions and thoughts that you deal with during this time can be challenging, especially when you feel like you’re alone in the struggle. Unlike female fertility, extensive research has not been done to measure all of the factors that contribute to male fertility. Add this to our society’s determination to highlight infertility as a solely female problem and it’s no wonder that so many men feel lost when they find out that their body is the one that’s making it hard to conceive a child.
The reality is that many men struggle with infertility, and many do so in silence. One of the best ways to deconstruct the stigma around male infertility is to bring awareness to just how common it is. Not only is it important that we open a dialogue around male fertility but that we use fact-based research to highlight that, despite how you may feel, you’re not alone.
Pulling from various resources, we’ve gathered some data that will help you — and those you love — understand that male infertility is a problem that many people deal with. Once you understand this, we hope that it will be easier to seek male fertility testing and treatment so you can become a father.
As defined by the World Health Organization, infertility is “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.”
Here’s a look at some prominent male fertility statistics, grouped by category.
Overall Male Fertility
While infertility has long been thought of as a female problem, the Centers for Disease Control reassures us that it is not. The latest data on infertility found that:
- In 35% of couples who experience infertility, a male factor is identified along with a female factor.
- In 8% of couples with infertility, a male factor is the only cause.
- In 10% of couples, neither has an identifiable cause of infertility.
No one likes to be thought of as a statistic, yet knowing that millions of other people share the same or similar challenges as you do can be a relief.
Common Types of Male Infertility
While there are many different factors that can affect male fertility, there is a handful that are considered to be the most common. These range from low (or no) sperm to medical conditions that affect sperm production.
While not all inclusive, understanding that these are the most common types of male infertility — and just how common they are — can help you decide what to seek testing for.
Lifestyle Factors that Affect Male Fertility
Even if you have no hormonal imbalance and no medical condition that causes infertility, your lifestyle could pose a problem. Smoking, drinking, exposure to hormonal disruptors, age, and weight play big roles in your body’s ability to produce healthy sperm.
It’s clear that there has not been nearly enough research done that focuses solely on male infertility. This is unfortunate because it’s such a common problem. In a true catch-22, the lack of research contributes to the lack of awareness which serves only to perpetuate the lack of research done. Still, understanding that male infertility is common can go a long way in alleviating feelings of alienation and shame that so many men experience when faced with infertility.