A common misconception about infertility is that it is typically a female condition. In reality, one-third of infertility cases are caused by the male, one-third by the female and one-third by both partners or unknown factors.
During Men’s Health Week, which leads up to Father’s Day, we are working to educate men, and those who love them, to consider their reproductive health as part of their overall well-being.
So what do men need to know about their fertility? I receive many questions from men about what to look for, what to do and what not to do. Here are a few of the most common questions.
How do I know if I’m infertile?
There are typically no symptoms of infertility. In some cases, erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation can be associated with infertility. However, these are not telltale signs.
If you and your partner have been trying to conceive for 12 months or more with no success, it is time to consider seeing a fertility specialist. If your female partner is older than 35 years of age, you should try for six months before seeing a fertility specialist.
What causes male infertility?
There are many factors that affect the ability to conceive a child. Male infertility has several primary causes:
- Low or absent sperm count
- Low sperm motility
- Blockages that prevent sperm from being ejaculated
- Previous medical issues or medication regimens, such as radiation therapy for cancer patients
- Genetic or hormonal issues that affect sperm production or health
- Infection of the prostate or epididymis that affect sperm production or health
The causes behind these factors, however, are often more difficult to pinpoint. Regardless of what is causing your infertility, a fertility specialist can work with you and your partner to find the best path forward.
If I have my vasectomy reversed, will this affect my fertility?
Having children after a vasectomy reversal is possible, although sometimes dependent on the type of reversal. Men who have had a vasovasostomy (VV) have a higher success rate for conception than those who have had a vasoepididymostomy (VE); however, conception is often possible with either reversal procedure.
After your vasectomy is reversed, your urologist will perform a series of semen analyses over the next several months to check sperm count and motility. If the results are abnormal for six months, infertility treatment may be required.
How can I boost my fertility?
Leading a healthy lifestyle helps to optimize reproductive health. This includes maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI), eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and minimizing drinking. Vitamins such as zinc, folic acid and Coenzyme Q10 have also been shown to improve sperm count, motility and health. Smokers should also quit.
If you are actively trying to conceive, avoid masturbation. This may dilute the quality of semen for men with a low sperm count.
If I suspect that I may be the cause of our conception troubles, what do I do?
If you have been trying to conceive for some time with no success, it’s appropriate to seek help. At Midwest Fertility, we can evaluate the health of your sperm with a male Fertility Check, which consists of a semen analysis. This allows us to observe the number, shape and motility of sperm to determine any concerns. We also provide a female Fertility Check that evaluates a woman’s fertility through a blood test. After we have these results, we can schedule a consultation with you to discuss your unique situation and determine the best way to move forward based on your wants and needs.