Men Start Here for Information About Infertility

Men have feelings too.

Men have a whole host of emotions and thoughts around infertility. Manliness is directly tied to being potent and virile. As well, men are not supposed to be emotional. The are supposed to be strong and supportive to the wife rather than express their own sadness, fears or disappointments.

Though it may not feel easy to do, seeking support – from friends, family members, professionals, or any combination of the three – can make a tremendous difference. Men who may not have a support system or who are not comfortable sharing their personal issues with friends or family have had tremendous success when joining a group to discuss their feelings in a safe environment. Resolve.org is a good place to start. And you can go to the  male factor infertility and support group at BabyCenter. (source)

Male Infertility

Many couples struggle with infertility and seek help to become pregnant, but it is often thought of as only a woman’s condition. However, in about 35% of couples with infertility, a male factor is identified along with a female factor. In about 8% of couples with infertility, a male factor is the only identifiable cause.

Almost 9% of men aged 25 to 44 years in the United States reported that they or their partner saw a doctor for advice, testing, or treatment for infertility during their lifetime. (source)

Too often, males have been overlooked in discussions of reproductive health, especially when reproductive issues such as contraception and infertility have been perceived as female-related. Every day, men, their partners, and health care providers can protect their reproductive health by ensuring effective contraception, avoiding sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and preserving fertility. (source)

According to healthline here are some of the aspects of sexual function and semen quality may affect male fertility:

  • Libido: Otherwise known as sex drive, libido describes a person's desire to have sex. Foods or supplements that claim to increase libido are called aphrodisiacs.

  • Erectile dysfunction: Also known as impotence, erectile dysfunction is when a man is unable to develop or maintain an erection.

  • Sperm count: An important aspect of semen quality is the number or concentration of sperm cells in a given amount of semen.

  • Sperm motility: An essential function of healthy sperm cells is their ability to swim. Sperm motility is measured as the percentage of moving sperm cells in a sample of semen.

  • Testosterone levels: Low levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone, may be responsible for infertility in some men.

Doctors will first recommend non-pharmacologic remedies for infertility. Medical News Today says that these are things that men can do quickly and naturally to improve their fertility:

  • Exercise and sleep have been shown to improve sperm count. A 2017 study found that performing a 16-week aerobic exercise program of at least 50 minutes of moderate exercise at 50 to 65 percent peak heart rate 3 times weekly, increased sperm volume and concentration in 45 sedentary, obese men.

  • Reduce Stress. There are many physiological reasons that a reduction in stress boosts fertility. If men are unable to cut out stressors, they are encouraged to try meditation, yoga, talk therapy and other relaxation techniques. For men who are experiencing severe stress, a doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications.

  • Reduce or cease use of drugs and alcohol. The number of studies exploring the link between sperm health and drugs is limited given ethical considerations. However, some researchers have linked the worldwide use of drugs such as alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine to decreased sperm production.

  • Quit Smoking. Smoking has long been known to reduce overall health, sperm production, and quality. A 2016 study reviewing the results of over 20 different studies with a total of nearly 6,000 participants found smoking consistently reduced sperm count.

  • Certain prescribed medications can temporarily lower sperm count such as some antibiotics, anti-androgens, anti-inflammatories, antipsychotics, corticosteroids, anabolic steroids (up to 1 year recovery time), exogenous (outside) testosterone, methadone.

  • Increase foods or supplements with Vitamin D, calcium, zinc, folate and antioxidants.

  • Reduce trans fats and increase healthy fats. Polyunsaturated fats or so-called healthy fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6, are crucial to the healthy development of the sperm membrane.

  • Avoid soy products and other foods that contain phytoestrogens (plant estrogen), compounds because they are shown to reduce testosterone bonding and sperm production. Many canned and plastic products are also high in synthetic forms of estrogen.

There is hope and help for men. Here at Hinsdale Center for Reproduction we can offer you support and most of all answers. In the past 30 years, 1 million IVF babies have been born in the United States. Here at HCR we are well over 5,000. Let us get you on the road to fatherhood.

Michael Hickey