Breaking the Stigma: Men's Struggle with Fertility and How to Overcome It
Infertility is often thought of as a women's issue, but the truth is that male fertility issues are just as common.
It is estimated that about one in every three cases of infertility is due to male factors alone, while a combination of male and female factors is responsible for another third of cases.
Unfortunately, male infertility is still stigmatised in many cultures, leaving many men feeling isolated and ashamed. However, with the right treatment and support, most men can overcome their fertility issues and become fathers.
Here, Sago IVF Team explore the common causes of male infertility, the latest treatments available, and the lifestyle changes you can make to boost your chances of conceiving. Whether you’re struggling with infertility or just curious about male fertility, read on for the full lowdown.
Causes of Male Infertility
- Low sperm count. This is the most common cause of male infertility. Low sperm count can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, lifestyle choices, and certain medical conditions.
- Poor sperm motility. Even if a man has a high sperm count, if the sperm are not motile (able to move properly), they may have trouble reaching the egg.
- Abnormal sperm shape. Sperm with abnormal shapes may not be able to fertilise an egg.
- Erectile dysfunction. Men who have difficulty getting or maintaining an erection may have trouble conceiving.
- Varicocele. This is a condition in which the veins that drain the testicles become enlarged, causing decreased sperm quality and quantity.
- Infections. Certain infections, such as sexually transmitted infections or urinary tract infections, can affect male fertility.
- Hormonal imbalances. Imbalances in hormones such as testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH) can affect sperm production.
- Environmental factors. Exposure to toxins, such as pesticides or lead, can affect male fertility.
Treatments for Male Infertility
Fortunately, there are many treatments available for male infertility. Here are some of the most common:
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI). This is a procedure in which sperm are placed directly into a woman’s uterus to increase the chances of fertilization.
- In vitro fertilization (IVF). This is a more complex procedure in which eggs are removed from a woman’s ovaries and fertilized in a lab with sperm. The resulting embryos are then transferred into the woman’s uterus.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). This is a type of IVF in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg to increase the chances of fertilization.
- Surgery. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct physical problems that are preventing conception, such as a varicocele.
- Medications. Certain medications can help to improve sperm production and quality.
Lifestyle Changes to Improve Male Fertility
In addition to medical treatments, there are also many lifestyle changes you can make to improve your chances of conceiving. Here are some tips:
A. Quit smoking. Smoking can decrease sperm count, motility, and quality. It can also damage DNA and cause erectile dysfunction. Quitting smoking can improve all of these factors.
B. Limit alcohol consumption. Heavy alcohol consumption can reduce testosterone levels and sperm production, leading to lower fertility. It’s best to limit alcohol intake to no more than 1-2 drinks per day.
C. Manage stress. High levels of stress can lead to hormonal imbalances and decreased sperm production. Consider incorporating stress-reducing activities like yoga, meditation, or regular exercise into your routine.
D. Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to a decrease in testosterone levels and decreased sperm production. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
E. Avoid exposure to toxins. Exposure to certain toxins, such as pesticides, lead, and heavy metals, can negatively impact sperm production and quality. Take steps to avoid exposure to these toxins by using protective gear and avoiding exposure in the workplace or at home.
F. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or underweight can affect hormone levels and sperm production.
G. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can help to improve sperm quality and motility.
Coping with Infertility
Coping with infertility can be difficult and stressful. It’s important to remember that infertility is a medical condition, and it’s not your fault. There are a few things you can do to help you cope with the emotional toll of infertility:
- Seek support. Joining a support group or talking to a therapist who specializes in infertility can help you cope with the emotional toll of infertility.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.
- Communicate with your partner. Infertility can be hard on a relationship, so it’s important to communicate with your partner and support each other.
- Consider alternative family-building options. Adoption, surrogacy, or donor sperm may be options for building your family if infertility treatments aren’t successful.
- Don’t give up hope. Advances in infertility treatment are being made all the time, so don’t give up hope. Keep trying and stay positive.
Emotional journey with hope
Infertility can be a difficult and emotional journey for men, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. There are many resources available to help you cope with infertility, and many treatment options available to help you and your partner conceive a child.
If you’re struggling with infertility, take the first step and talk to your doctor. With the right diagnosis and treatment, many men with fertility issues can father a child.
By making lifestyle changes, exploring treatment options, and seeking emotional support, you can increase your chances of success and overcome the stigma surrounding male infertility.
Remember, there is hope for men struggling with infertility. Don’t give up on your dreams of starting a family.