About 15% of couples have trouble conceiving. Male infertility plays a role in about 50% of these cases. Sometimes it’s the man and the woman who have infertility problems and sometimes it’s just the man.
At California Center for Reproductive Health, our specialists want to help you overcome fertility problems and grow your family. It’s important to us that you understand the nature of your infertility so you can take productive steps.
Knowing the myths and facts about male infertility helps you make smart choices. Being empowered with knowledge helps you make productive lifestyle changes and accept appropriate treatments to help you get the family you desire. Plus, you won’t waste your time and resentment on factors that are insignificant. Here’s what we want you to know about male infertility.
MYTH: A man’s fertility isn’t affected by age
TRUTH: Male fertility declines with age
Men do continue to produce sperm until death, but the quality and quantity of that sperm decreases as a man ages. When a man reaches the age of 35-40, the health of his sperm starts to decline. Beginning at 39, men’s fertility declines by about 23% each year.
Fertility declines can show up as:
- Poor sperm quality, including shape and motility
- Poor sperm concentration
- Low sperm counts
These factors affect pregnancy rates, the time it takes to conceive, miscarriage risk, and the baby’s health.
While it is possible for older men to father children, it’s not easy.
MYTH: Men don’t have to change their lifestyle to improve fertility
TRUTH: A man’s lifestyle matters to his fertility
When a woman is trying to conceive, she is encouraged to eat a healthy diet, to be physically active, to stop smoking, and quit drinking. These factors can negatively affect her fertility.
A man’s lifestyle also matters to the ability to conceive. Men who smoke have decreased sperm quality, lower sperm counts, and higher numbers of abnormally shaped sperm. Smoking also negatively affects the sperm’s motility.
Diet, sleep, and stress also affect sperm health and quality. So, as part of your fertility plan, we can help you transition to a more healthy lifestyle.
MYTH: Semen analysis gives answers about your fertility
FACT: Semen analysis is one part of your fertility workup
One of the first steps in determining why you and your partner are struggling to get pregnant is a semen analysis. While this test can reveal important factors, like the basic assessment of your semen volume along with sperm count, motility, concentration, and shape. But, a semen analysis can’t tell you that you’re infertile.
Men with poor semen analysis have been able to produce a natural pregnancy. It may take slightly longer, but some research concludes that there is “no clear relationship between the probability of conception and either the proportion of motile sperm or semen volume.”
Factors in your semen analysis can be changed, too, with lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, improving your diet, or taking certain supplements.
MYTH: If a man is diagnosed with infertility, you need a sperm donor
FACT: Male infertility can often be treated successfully
We offer many treatments for male-factor infertility before recommending a sperm donor. Intrauterine insemination (IUI), is a relatively simple treatment during which a sample of a man’s sperm is inserted directly into the uterus. This gives a couple a better chance of fertilization.
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is another option to address male-factor infertility. During this procedure, we use a sample of sperm to fertilize an egg in a lab to create an embryo.
Other possible treatments include surgery or procedures to directly retrieve sperm from the testicles.
If you’re struggling with infertility, call one of our California Center for Reproductive Health offices in Encino, Valencia, or West Hollywood, or reach out via this website. We help men and women who want to optimize their fertility.