AVENTURA, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–According to the WHO, nearly 1 in 6 couples experience infertility worldwide. Despite approximately 40 to 50 percent of all infertility cases occurring due to male factor infertility, a lack of education and stigma surrounding male infertility remains. In recognition of Men’s Health Month, South Florida-based Urologist, Co-Host of the Man-Up Podcast, and Men’s Health Specialist at Memorial Healthcare System, Justin Dubin, M.D., answers common questions about male factor infertility, clarifies its causes, discusses lifestyle factors, and provides guidance on when to seek advice from a healthcare provider.
“Male factor infertility affects roughly half of all infertility cases, yet there is a pervasive stigma surrounding male infertility that prevents many men from seeking help,” says Dr. Dubin. “This can lead to feelings of isolation, guilt and shame. However, by opening the conversation, we can break the silence around male infertility and encourage men to take control of their reproductive health.”
Below, Dr. Dubin answers common questions regarding male factor infertility:
What are the common causes of male infertility?
Male infertility can be influenced by various factors, including sperm-related factors, hormonal imbalances, testicular problems, genetic factors and previous or current medical conditions. In terms of sperm, the quality, quantity and motility (movement) of sperm are crucial for fertility as a low sperm count or poor sperm motility can affect the sperm’s ability to fertilize an egg. Testicular problems can also be at fault for sperm-related issues as conditions that affect the testicles, such as varicoceles or testicular injuries, infections or surgeries, can impact sperm production and quality. Additionally, hormonal imbalances, genetic abnormalities or certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis or kidney disease, can all play a role in infertility.
One of the biggest and most misunderstood causes of male infertility is testosterone usage. That’s right, using testosterone prevents your testicles from making their own testosterone and sperm. So, if you are considering taking testosterone or are currently on testosterone and are interested in future fertility, speak with your healthcare provider.
What are some lifestyle and nutrition choices that can affect my fertility?
The easiest way to understand the importance of lifestyle and fertility is, “what’s good for your heart is good for your parts.” Living a healthy and active lifestyle is the best thing you can do to optimize your fertility.
Lifestyle factors such as smoking cigarettes or marijuana, excessive alcohol use or use of illicit drugs can all have a negative impact on fertility. In addition, wet heat exposure, such as hot tubs and saunas – can also kill your sperm. Your testicles are outside of your body for a reason – because sperm best develops in temperatures a few degrees cooler than the rest of your body. So, when you go into a hot tub or sauna, you’re cooking your sperm and can temporarily harm your sperm count. Don’t worry though, sperm has a life cycle of about 3 months, so most sperm parameters recover in a 3-month period. Being overweight and having poorly controlled diabetes can also potentially compromise your fertility.
Opposingly, a balanced diet of whole foods and fruits and vegetables are beneficial for male fertility. Adequate sleep and exercise are also necessary for optimizing your health.
In some cases, frequent intercourse or ejaculations can be beneficial for fertility. Unfortunately, there are no positions that have been proven to be more beneficial than others when trying to conceive. However, certain lubricants can help with conception, such as Pre-Seed Fertility Lubricant, as it does not hinder sperm motility.
When should I see an infertility specialist and what can I expect from my first appointment?
Depending on you and your partner’s age, if you have been trying to conceive for six months to a year or are just interested in learning more about your fertility status, I recommend consulting an infertility specialist. Once an appointment is made, an infertility specialist will likely order a semen analysis to assess the semen volume, sperm concentration, sperm motility and sperm morphology. If there are any abnormalities or any concerns within medical history, further testing such as laboratory testing or imaging may be ordered to better assess the situation and discover the root cause of infertility.
“The decision to consult an infertility specialist can be challenging for many men as societal expectations, stigma and fear of judgment can create barriers to seeking help,” says Dr. Dubin. “However, medical intervention can be essential to acquiring accurate diagnoses, getting personalized treatment options, providing emotional support and building a family. The bottom line is this: society puts too much pressure on female partners when it comes to fertility. Men, at the very least, owe it to themselves and their partners to get checked and take some of the pressure off them. After all, it takes two to tango.”